Across the country, our youth – the future of our country – took to the streets today. Protestors closed college campuses and secondary schools in a national day to defend the current state of public education. With rising tuition costs, budget cuts, increased layoffs and growing class sizes, parents, students and concerned citizens are trying to get their voices heard in the education crisis.
Education lays the foundation to a prosperous future by opening countless doors to opportunity. That is undeniable. It is connected to low crime rates, higher happiness levels and economic stability and security, to name just a few of its many benefits. With the recent assault on public education, not only are we denying our citizens of basic rights, but as a nation, we will quickly fall behind in an expanding global economy.
A quick look into the future of our nation is simply depressing if we consider educational attainment numbers for students 18 and under. According to the New York Times, American high school students drop out of high school at an average rate of one student every 26 seconds. This does not bode well during prosperous times, but it is even worse during an economic downturn when jobs for highly educated individuals are even difficult to come by. Something needs to be done, and taking more money from public schools is not the answer, nor is increasing tuition costs by 32%, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has proposed for California. This only further exacerbates the problem by denying students from low-income families from the education they deserve.
If we want the best for our fellow Americans today and ten, twenty, thirty years down the road, we have to end this crisis now. Education is the building block to fulfilling individual dreams. We cannot let this fundamental door to opportunity close on millions of Americans.