Fighting Poverty Through Education is a Better Way
By Chris Carmona and EJ Wilder
Across America, children have returned or are returning to the classroom. What happens inside that classroom is becoming ever more important, not just for our country, but for many children who can only lift themselves out of poverty with a quality education. We have recently discussed the need to address the struggles of urban America along with an overview of the overall American economy; Education cuts across both.
If we can more properly and effectively focus on educating children when they are young, then we can help to avoid the pitfalls and traps of poverty and joblessness. In this respect, education is at the very core of saving urban America and employing more American citizens. A better education for more children not only means more skilled workers for America’s employers, but this group might also be the next great start-up founders.
Washington D.C. over the years has added law after law, to the point that there are now forty-five federal programs that attempt to address early childhood issues, including a dozen dedicated to education. These programs are inflexible for local communities, and they one-size-fits-all directives, many of which overlap with each other.
Too often, localities will ignore or choose not to recognize the federally mandated scores and results. This is another great example of bigger government not necessarily being better government. Lack of both oversight and enforcement renders some well-meaning federal laws meaningless. In the short term, it may be the teachers and the administrators that are rewarded by covering up their failure or poor performance. In the long term, it is the children, their families and their communities that suffer the most by moving under-prepared and under-educated students through the system. Are the teachers and administrators going to be the ones held responsible down the line? It rarely happens that way, so it is likely it will not start now.
The answers to America’s education troubles will not always come from Washington D.C. Many of these solutions will be found in our communities, the places that are trying different approaches and producing better outcomes and results. Just as the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is successful in Washington D.C., elsewhere local initiatives developed and put through the tests and rigors of the education system that have proven successful deserve to be tried, experimented with, and expanded to affect more positive change in areas where this can happen.
We need to ensure that the education system allows for inputs and new ideas from those who have tried and tested new concepts. Just as we can look at the New York City school system and realize that we do not want to export “rubber rooms” across America, we can look at the positive and effective solutions from across America and allow other municipalities to adapt, modify and expand the great programs to be even greater.
We also need to see to it that children today are not being educated for the jobs of yesterday. Learning to use a rotary telephone might be humorous, but it will not help a child today to land a job in the smartphone economy. In a country as geographically diverse as ours, states and local communities need the flexibility to make sure they have a skilled, trained workforce that meets their economic needs. Congress can make sure that where applicable, local schools can pair-up with local businesses to offer students real training on or with real equipment with expert and industry leaders. This is the core essence of what makes vocational training successful.
This is all a part of the Republican party’s vision for a Better Way that works to prevent future generations from falling into poverty, while at the same time working to ensure strong accountability for taxpayers. There is a role for all of us to play, from parents demanding better results, to teachers given better tools to do their job, to administrators being allowed to reward innovators, to private citizens serving as mentors or tutors.
We know generations of young Americans are being left behind, yet many of us are powerless to resolve the problem. If we never break that cycle, we only have ourselves to blame. In the coming weeks, you will hear about ways you can be involved and help bring this need change to your communities. We call on your support to provide a Better Way for our children’s educational future.