Why Are We Not Investing in Our Children? The Politics of Education

MADDI LARMORE: Few would disagree that education is extremely important, if not imperative to a child’s success; however, when it comes to the policy-making process, comprehensive improvements to our public education system are often passed over for quicker and more politically-convenient solutions, leaving the real work to nonprofit organizations.

Yes, education is expensive and real, game-changing results take years, if not generations, to manifest themselves to voters. Any rationally-minded politician may think twice before investing in a policy that won’t mature until they’re already out of office.

Yes, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of innovative and passionate leaders in the nonprofit world that are making real impact in their respective communities. Their work is breaking the cycles of violence and poverty and is nothing short of heroic.

And yes, the United States is home to some of the strongest universities in the world, leaders in academic research and global achievement, so we must be doing something right.

But it’s still not enough. Not only is our nation’s education system a problem, it’s affecting our vulnerable populations, such as children from low-income families, minorities, english-language learners and children with disabilities, the most. It is especially concerning that many children are members of more than one these hard-hit demographics.

So why is education important anyways?

  1. A strong education system creates a higher-earning and more productive workforce. According to the National Center for Education Statistics’ 2018 “Condition of Education” report, the median young adult with a bachelor’s degree made 57% more than the median young adult who completed high school. Those who earned a high school diploma, in turn, earned on average 26% more than those who didn’t complete high school. In 2016, educated adults were more likely to be employed than those who didn’t complete high school or whose highest degree is a high school diploma.

  2. Educated adults are more likely to have better qualities of life. According to a 2013 study by the University of Minnesota, 5% of adults with a bachelor degree were living in poverty compared to 28% of adults who didn’t finish high school. Educated adults are more likely to have jobs that offer healthcare benefits and have children that stay in the school system.

  3. School socializes us to participate in society. While the primary focus of school may be building knowledge in reading and history and developing skills in math and science, the education system also socializes kids to work in teams, share and articulate challenging concepts, and express themselves. School also challenges kids to think independently and critically, to take constructive criticism, and to learn from mistakes.

In order to build a stronger society with higher quality of life, our leaders need to look beyond short-term solutions and focus on raising the standard for vulnerable children.

To read more about this issue, check out the websites listed below

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK216779/ ; https://www.prb.org/us-inequality-education/ ; https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2018/2018144.pdf ; http://www.readingrockets.org/article/supporting-students-autism-10-ideas-inclusive-classrooms

Max Magid