Many subscribe to a notion that education is the great equalizer. An effective education system is one that truly levels the playing field - affording every student, despite his or her background, an opportunity to compete in today's society. I applaud the efforts of human rights activists like Malala Yousafza, the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, for her fight against education suppression. For the past decade, America’s promise of a solid education for our nation’s children has been buried under the weight of an economic collapse. Our focus on jobs and housing has shifted our attention away from the most direct path to economic freedom: education.
It’s time to put the focus back on education.
The Urban League seeks to promote equal opportunity for all and to protect our children from the vicious cycle of poverty. The upcoming election presents our nation with a critical opportunity to redefine the parallels between education and economic growth. We can’t move the education agenda forward without taking part in democracy. On November 4, Broward County voters can do their part in furthering education by reauthorizing the Children Service’s Council which funds education and health programs delivered by a network of 100 providers including the Urban League. The Council carries enormous benefits for our children; without it, summer education programs, early learning and literacy services, and after school activities will go unfunded. Continued investment in the education and development of our children is the surest way for our nation to remain globally competitive.
Just look at the numbers. The U.S. military reports that two-thirds of America’s youth lack basic mathematics and reading skills – making them ineligible to service our nation. According to the U.S. Department of Education, students growing up in low-income communities fall behind their peers, at each stage of their educational lives. It is no surprise that the educational outcomes of these students report poor standardized test scores, behavioral issues and higher rates of truancy, grade retention and dropouts. If our young people are not earning high school diplomas, they are not applying to college, which makes them less likely to earn decent wages. This is a troubling reality, as research shows a significant decline in the number of our young people attending and completing college. Where America once led the world in college graduates, we are now 14th just behind Israel, Belgium and France. Having a college degree is becoming more and more essential: A recent CareerBuilder survey revealed that three in 10 companies are hiring more college-educated workers for jobs primarily held by high school graduates. Two decades ago, it would have seemed unusual that nearly every job, despite experience level, would require some sort of college degree. Today’s fierce global competition tells us that jobs will go where skills are.
The Baughtom Line is this: Our position at the polls determines the success of us closing the education gap. Now is the time to sound the alarm for legislators to safeguard our children’s future. The inability of our schools to produce more students ready for higher education and careers is stunting economic growth; and looming danger of a student loan bubble further seeks threaten our population of prospective college goers. So let’s all vote on November 4 and bring back our attention to education by supporting local summer education, early learning and literacy services, and after school activities – which are essential for advancing the future success of our children.