At the 2023 Aspen Institute’s Aspen Security Forum, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined a panel “on how the U.S. can use education and emerging technologies” to build a competitive workforce while expanding ways “these initiatives can help defend U.S. security interests.”
As seen in the clip below, while the panel considers how the U.S. is (and should be) maintaining its competitive edge in the global landscape, Rice is asked by the host, Stephanie Ruhle, “Who is our biggest adversary that we should be worried about?”
Rice answers frankly: “Our biggest adversaries are us.” She elaborates that the challenge for free people and democracies is “to organize themselves to do the most urgent tasks.” And cultivating talent for competitiveness is among the most urgent tasks, says Rice.
Rice adds: “We don’t like talking about it these days but we import a lot of our talent. That’s one of the ways we have stayed at the lead edge. The truth is if you are a young software engineer or want to be a young software engineer, you might want to be in the United States of America because (actually) in a generation you could be an American.”
Rice says the people who are “leading the knowledge revolution across the country are immigrants” and adds “we need to educate our own because it shouldn’t be that you have to come here to be successful.”
When Rice reveals “I actually believe in school choice, I actually believe in charter schools” — a hot topic among the GOP presidential candidates this year — the audience applauds. She adds, “Every time I hear somebody say charter schools or vouchers or school choice will damage the public schools, I say fine, write that editorial in the Washington Post but then don’t send your kids to Sidwell Friends.” The calling out of hypocrisy drew more applause.
[Note: Sidwell Friends School, which located near the White House, has educated children of notable politicians including those of Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton (Chelsea) and Barack Obama (Sasha and Malia), Democratic Vice President Al Gore (Albert Gore III), and current Democratic presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (son of the late U.S. Senator RFK).]
President Obama’s Education Reform Plan included funds for public schools and charter schools but did not include vouchers. Obama voted against voucher proposals throughout his career and “voiced concern for siphoning off resources from our public schools.”
At the end of the video, Rice gives a shout out to St. Mary’s Academy in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, the formerly all-girls Catholic high school from which she graduated at the age of 16 in 1971.