May I suggest that you place education as a top priority during your presidency? The inequality in education between the affluent and the poor has never been more prominent, resulting in dire consequences. Educational inequality has impended social mobility and perpetuated correlation between educational and racial divides. If the educational divide were to be resolved, incarceration rates, minority representation, and poverty levels would all be improved.
Perhaps you are skeptical of the extent of educational inequality in the United States, a country that touts freedom and equal opportunity. However, the disadvantages marginalized communities have when pursuing a high-quality education are abundantly clear—even disregarding the private schools and individualized tutoring that poorer families cannot afford. Although previous generations saw kids consistently reaching higher education levels than their parents, in recent years, this positive trend has all but been erased; only five percent of Americans whose parents did not finish high school obtain a college degree today (Porter). Thus, students with parents in low-wage, low-skill jobs are often confined to the same jobs their parents occupied, leaving social mobility stagnant.
When the lens is widened to factor in racial lines, the statistics are even more startling. For instance, in New York City, one of the most diverse cities in the country, schools with high minority populations, specifically, black and Hispanic students, are given the fewest resources and the least experienced teachers (Strauss). It is integral for education to be reformed in order to help rectify this trend of higher poverty rates among minority populations; a 2010 Harvard paper found that controlling for educational achievement would considerably shrink—and perhaps even altogether eliminate—the wage gap between blacks and whites and Hispanics and whites. Furthermore, the status quo, where black men are about three and a half times more likely to be incarcerated than white men, could be massively improved with educational reform, reducing the inequity to only about 50% (“The Link”). Clearly, resolving educational inequality would have a positive trickle-down effect, not only benefitting the disadvantaged students held back by underfunding and inexperienced teachers, but also diminishing poverty and incarceration rates, making it the single most important issue facing our nation today.
Solving this ever-pressing issue will require several actions. Most importantly, the government must fund with greater equity, which can improve academic performance without spending any additional money. Currently, students in the wealthiest neighborhoods paradoxically receive the most funding; increased funding equity would encourage more highly-qualified teachers to find jobs in schools with higher minority proportions and give disadvantaged students adequate school supplies, such as textbooks and computers. Indeed, a twenty-point improvement in the equity ratio is correlated with nearly a two point improve in reading scores for low-income students (Gjaja). This long-term solution would provide a strong foundation for students of different income brackets to receive equal opportunity in schools, a moralistic quality that America stands to provide.
Additionally, access to high-quality preschool programs must be improved. As the Center for American Progress reports, “half of the achievement gap in high school can be attributed to children’s experiences before age 5” (Olinsky). Investing in early education could not only help break the cycles of poverty for individuals but would also benefit the nation; higher earnings boost tax revenue, which can in turn be put towards paying for higher-quality education, creating a positive feedback loop.
The ultimate change, however, will require support from individuals such as myself. To catalyze change at a local level, I can volunteer and fundraise to provide better supplies to poorer schools, giving underprivileged students the tools they need to succeed. I can additionally offer free tutoring for the underprivileged who would otherwise be unable to afford such a luxury in my community. Finally, I have the ability to call legislatures and to spur others to do the same, collectively inspiring lasting policy changes at the local, state, and national level.
Education is the single most important right this country guarantees, providing everyone a chance to make a better life for themselves. Every reform must start from inadequate education and opportunity—the root of almost every issue in the nation—and it is indisputable that diagnosing this root will have far-reaching benefits for the United States.
For these reasons, I sincerely hope you will consider my suggestions.
Gjaja, Marin, J. Puckett, and Matt Ryder. "Equity Is the Key to Better School Funding." EdWeek. Education Week, 19 Feb. 2014. Web. 25 Nov. 2016.
Olinsky, Ben. "6 Policies to Combat Inequality." Center for American Progress. Center for American Progress, 28 Jan. 2014. Web. 03 Dec. 2016.
Porter, Eduardo. "Education Gap Between Rich and Poor Is Growing Wider." The New York Times. The New York Times, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
Strauss, Valerie. "Why Education Inequality Persists--and How to Fix It." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 16 May 2012. Web. 18 Nov. 2016.
"The Link Between Education & Inequality." The Education Innovation Laboratory. The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2010. Web. 24 Nov. 2016.