Education should be unlocked for all

Illustration by Angela Kim

Illustration by Angela Kim

By Najay Greenidge
Philadelphia, Penn. 

Education is the key that allows people to open doors in life. Yet we as a society deny certain groups access to this key because of their socioeconomic status. In doing so, we stunt the growth of our society by creating people who are destined to fail.

To return the key to success to the lower classes, we as a society should raise the tax rate for the wealthy, and use that money to equalize educational opportunities for people of all backgrounds.

America has long suffered from the ills of segregation, whether it be racial, ethnic, religious or economic. Yet while overt segregation has been become less socially acceptable, the ever-distant pool of elites has been able to perpetuate inequality because the wealthy have vastly better educational opportunities.

African-Americans and Hispanics are the groups most affected by these inequalities because they frequently start off on a lower socioeconomic level.

According to a 2012 survey by the U.S. Census Bureau, the nation’s poverty rate is set at 16.1 percent. A separate study in 2010 revealed that 38 percent of African Americans under 18 (4.8 million) and 35 percent of Hispanics under 18 (6.1 million) are impoverished.

These groups are disproportionately impacted by public school budget cuts, which affect teacher quality, course offerings and class sizes. Poorer families often can’t afford to send their children to private school, and schools dominated by low-income students also receive less in parental donations.

Consequently, these students are stuck in under-resourced schools, are less likely to graduate or go on to elite universities.

The solution here is simple: public schools need more money, and that money should come from higher taxes on the wealthy.

With more money for poor urban schools, teachers can be paid more competitively, schools can be made safer and nicer and course offerings can be expanded.

Now, to be sure, some will argue that the wealthy already pay more than their fair share of taxes.

But the truth is that the rich are the only ones in a position to have a dramatic impact on the quality of education in this country.

As Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said, “Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.” His point, of course, was that citizenship has a price.

To ensure that we continue to live in our safe and comfortable society, we need to invest in its advancement.

Education is the great driving force behind American growth and prosperity. It is the key to our future. And it’s time for the wealthy to do their part in enabling people of all backgrounds to unlock the door.

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