When asked in a recent poll to rate reasons why the federal government should increase education spending, 85 percent of respondents said the country's need for stronger national security is a "good reason" to increase spending in the classroom.
A similar percentage of respondents also supported budget increases to help poor students secure equal opportunities in higher education and to provide quality teachers.
The survey, which was based on a representative sample of 1,000 adults, was conducted on behalf of a national coalition of education organizations called the Committee for Education Funding. The poll's margin of error is 3.1 percent.
Committee for Education Funding spokesman Robert Gilbert said the results of the poll stress the need for an educated work force, including everyone from airport screeners to CIA agents.
"It makes sense," he said. "No matter how sophisticated we get with the machines, there need to be people available."
National Education Association spokeswoman Becky Fleischauer said the survey's results show that Americans "understand that there is an extricable link between education and the economy and (between) education and national security." The National Education Association is a member association of the Committee for Education Funding.
A quality education produces not only a better-skilled population, she said, but also more high-paying jobs. "It just makes good sense to invest in education."
Richard Kohn, chairman of UNC's curriculum in peace, war, and defense, said education plays a crucial role in national security. "It always has," he said. "There's no question of that."
Education levels are reflected in a nation's economic health, technological advancements, social cohesion and understanding of its role in the world, Kohn said, all of which fall under the broad umbrella of national security.