Education is a right, not a privilege

By Breonna Reese
Gary, IN

Think for a second. Think of a land where life is better, richer and fuller for everyone. How about a land where there is an opportunity for each according to their abilities and what they want to achieve? Well, writer and historian James Truslow Adams came up with the idea of the American Dream. The American Dream is essentially defined as “The Land of Opportunity.” Has America truly fulfilled its name though? With access to education being limited, education has become a privilege and not a right, as it should be. Let’s dig a little deeper.

Education should be a right because not allowing someone to get an education will detach that person from society. If a child isn’t taught how to hold a conversation, express herself and become an intellectual, she won’t be able to carve out a better life — in fact, she may not be able to survive. Despite this, education has been made a privilege. 

Some children simply can’t afford an education. In the documentary “Waiting for ‘Superman,’” about schools in the United States, one mother says she pays $500 a month for her daughter, Bianca, to attend a private school. Because students are in school for an average of 207 days (7 months), the yearly total is more than $3,500.

There are four main groups of schools in the United States: charter schools, public schools, magnet schools and private schools. To enroll in many of these schools, you have to meet certain requirements, or you will not receive an education. In other words, receiving a good education depends on luck and perfect timing. For example, to get into a magnet school, you must have certain kinds of skills or do well on a test. Charter schools operate on a first-come, first-served basis. If you try to enroll too late, you must enter a lottery. Therefore, children who are starting out behind rarely have a chance to catch up.

To be sure, some people will argue that education should remain a privilege. They believe that many children from low-income backgrounds do not understand the importance of education and how it can shape their future, and that they are unlikely to appreciate and use the education that they receive. However, I believe that such arguments are false. There are students who come from low-income families who appreciate and take advantage of their education. I am one of them. Where I come from, students are not encouraged to receive an education, and many are never given the chance, even though every child has the right to learn regardless of where they come from and their social status.

There are several ways to address this problem. First, we should lower private school tuition. Second, we must stand up for ourselves, the rights of others and for equality and justice. On a larger scale, state and local governments should step in and make new laws that provide greater access to good schools. It is evident that unequal access to education has made it a privilege, and that students are desperately waiting for “Superman” to save them.

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