Thursday, February 12, 2009

Strengthen schools and decrease unemployment

I'm still trying to figure out why some people can't make the connection between strengthening our schools and long-term economic growth.

One friend said that the stimulus package should be called an investment package. Personally, I don't have a problem with that. Isn't that what we're supposed to be doing...stimulating our economy in order to have long-term growth (i.e. return on an investment)? Dictionary.com defines it...

Investment: the investing of money or capital in order to gain profitable returns, as interest, income, or appreciation in value.
My understanding is that we want returns on our money so that our $700B is not put into some bottomless pit.

So, I return to education.

Rebuilding schools provide immediate jobs for engineers, construction workers, architects, and many others, while also strengthening the capacity of schools for the future generations of children who will attend them. Obviously, the people who cut this out of the budget hasn't been to places like East St. Louis that desperately need new schools...or even other places who simply don't have the capacity to include current technology in their buildings.

Pell grants allow low-income students the ability to dream and believe that college is accessible to them, too. Believe it or not, there are a lot of students who aren't able to access the extra loans needed (or are fearful of going into debt) to pay what Pell grants don't pay. Though Pell grants in the past may have paid for a college education and left some money for living expenses, that's not the case these days.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has just released a report giving an economic sketch of black people. You can read more about the report in the recent Washington Post article.

Nearly two-thirds of Black people are 45 and younger.

2.2 million black people were unemployed last year.

However, by looking at the Black people that are employed, you can get a good picture of their economic outlook. There is a strong correlation between work and education.

Of the 6.8 million black men who are employed, the vast majority have at least a high school diploma. Many have college degrees or diplomas from technical schools. The same is true for the 8.4 million working black women.

For black men ages 20 to 24 without a high school diploma, on the other hand, the unemployment rate is 55 percent -- an abysmal 91 percent for 18- and 19-year-olds. For uneducated black women 20 to 24, it's close to 30 percent.

The higher the education level, the lower the unemployment.

With more than 40 percent of blacks failing to graduate from some of the nation's largest urban school systems, little wonder that one in nine black men between 20 and 34 are behind bars.

The report doesn't say getting an education makes you rich. But it does demonstrate that a higher education level provides a much better access to jobs.

Wanna know how to solve the economic crises??

Invest in education!
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