I wish the presidential candidates were going to debate transportation policy before this fall’s election, but they show no signs of doing so.
I hope the country’s politicians are paying attention to the country’s high schools this year. The National Forensic League (NFL) has chosen transportation as the topic for its sanctioned debates, so high school kids will be debating transportation policy in 2012-13. I’m guessing the students will not kick the can down the road two or three years before talks begin the way Congress did.
During the upcoming school year, students around the country will be gathering evidence to support the affirmative or negative side of the following statement: “Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its transportation infrastructure investment in the United States.”
If they gather their evidence the way I did when I was in high school, they will be busy copying quotes and statistics from scholarly reference works onto 4×6 cards and then putting them together into logical arguments supporting their side. They will have to try to anticipate how their opponents will try to attack their position and prepare responses. They also will have to stand up to cross-examination by the other side.
If only our elected leaders were as rigorously prepared. I’m sure some of them are well-versed in transportation infrastructure issues. The others at least have staffers to do the research if needed.
During the 2012-13 school year, the NFL will have about 120,000 high school and middle school students, representing nearly 3,000 high schools and middle schools, participating in speech and debate competitions.
Obama’s policy has been to promote green programs, such as complete streets and livability initiatives, high-speed rail, the ARRA—though transportation was only a small percentage of that stimulus bill.