The question between rich and poor is more than a question about money--it's a question of time. Meredith Philips, associate professor of sociology at UCLA has found that by the time high-income children start school they have spent 400 hours more than poor children in literacy activities. Money allows for the ability to send children to daycare or preschool, which provides a greater opportunity for success. However, when parents must work 2 or 3 jobs to keep food on the table, parents are not able to spend time with their children reading Goodnight Moon or The Little Engine That Could.
But have they?
This week North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue announced a 3/4-cent sales tax increase to help education remain at the top in the nation, and fund continual improvement. The sales tax had been allowed to expire by the Republican-dominated General Assembly in 2011. And, no, it's no surprise that people are willing to risk the education of young people in order to take more money home.
Throwing money at the educational crisis, alone, will not solve it, but it certainly helps. We need to look at the entire structure.
For example, in at-risk communities we need to put skilled technology training back into classrooms. While welding or carpentry might be helpful, newer computer training and manufacturing training will go much farther in this skilled-labor economy. These communities are the ones that will get the training, spend the money in the local area, and create new jobs for their fellow neighbors. Economic change happens when people have access to education and job skill training.
Even as I write this, I know that no matter how many flashy graphs, sparkling charts, or powerful data one provides there will still be naysayers. Sadly enough, people are selfish and would rather take the easy way out when it comes to societal transformation. We are called to fight even stronger for all people, and to help others see that it's not about "us vs. them," but a deeper human issue.
Our common humanity thrives when people choose to not only work together, but mutually enhance one another. From sea to shining sea we need education for this republic to improve. We need education so that we can foster future trumpets of peace and hope when the darker side of human existence begins to take over. We need education so that our future ancestors can live successful, peaceful, healthy lives. Tax cuts now live us deprived in the future.
May we think with our hearts in our minds, and see that all people deserve and must receive a live-giving education.