In case of a zombie apocalypse, your #1 goal: get away from the zombies. Create a safe zone, a home base. Short-term survival. Once you collect all the survivors, you must assess your new society’s resources. What skills do the people in your group bring to the table? Do you have a doctor? A general? A builder? Do you have supplies? Do you have access to more supplies? How long can you hold out? Then you worry about long-term survival because you cannot hold off the zombie horde forever.
You need a cure, a way to stop the zombie infection so no more zombies are created and eventually all the zombies can be eliminated. So if you have any surviving scientists, you get them to work on a vaccine. What if you don’t have any scientists? Or the scientists you have fail? Or, more likely, the scientists you have take steps toward a vaccine but don’t find one. Then what?
You look to the next generation. You create scientists. You get all the children together in your safe zone and educate them. If you knew which kid was going to find the cure, you could focus your resources on educating him or her. But you do not. So you must educate all children. In your post-apocalyptic society you cannot afford to waste any resources.
In our pre-apocalyptic society, we cannot afford to waste any resources either. Because you never know which brain is going to cure cancer or provide the critical breakthrough that leads to a cure. For that matter, nobody knows which brain will be the next Willa Cather or Raphael or Mozart – or King, Patton or Lincoln.
Every society rests on the blood, sweat and tears – and brains – of millions of its ancestors. Nobody knows which brains will provide the crucial innovations in a thousand fields. So if we don’t make it a priority to educate all children, we are wasting our country’s greatest resource, our brains. Not only that but uneducated brains are far more dangerous than zombies.
It would be terrific if every parent made the education of their children their top priority. That would be the most efficient way to run education. But not every parent does, so the rest of us must. This is why it is not enough to worry only about educating your kids. It is in the best interests of your kids to educate all kids. And this is why education is not just an issue for parents. Education is an issue for everyone who lives in this society. We will all benefit from the cures, breakthroughs, great works of art and courageous acts of leadership, or we can spend our lives dodging the zombie-minds we chose to create.