When we consider education inequities, many of us quickly think of inner city public schools despair compared to peer private schools — but few realize the real inequity in education is between rural schools and city schools and the main crevasse between “The Haves” and “The Have Nots” is technology caused by geography. The web.
Bandwidth acquisition and exploitation. It’s hard to get a superfast Internet connection in the middle of nowhere when there is little financial incentive for companies and utilities to invest in laying down copper wire the last mile into rural homes and schools. Wireless technology and satellite internet are helping bridge that gap in technology inequity based on neighborhood and fieldstone. The real trouble in the inner city — the Urban Core, if you will — is not caused by the lack of access to technological advances, but rather by the loss of hope and long-term understanding of how to build a future that doesn’t bleed.
Here are some alarming statistics from the Alliance for Excellence in Education that proves a definite relationship between the essence of a city and the livelihood of those expected to serve its urban core as citizens with meaning:
- If all of the students in New Jersey who are estimated to drop out of school this year earn diplomas instead, the state could save more than $259 million over the course of those young people’s lifetimes.
- If New Jersey’s high schools and colleges were to raise the graduation rates of Hispanic, African-American, and Native-American students to the levels of white students by 2020, the potential increase in personal income in the state would add more than $11.3 billion to New Jersey’s economy.
- If the 13,831 high school dropouts from the Class of 2006 had earned their diplomas instead of dropping out, New Jersey’s economy would have seen an additional $3.6 billion in wages over these students’ lifetimes.
- New Jersey spends over $96 million each year to provide community college remediation education for recent high school graduates who did not acquire the basic skills necessary to succeed in college or at work.
What’s going on here? Why is there such a minority educational bleeding in the urban core? Where have we gone wrong and how can we fix it? In Jersey City, the TRAC (Transitional Road to Attending College) program is trying to help prepare students for the rough road ahead:
Research shows that the first few weeks of high school are critical to improving retention rates and encouraging students to go on to college. This summer, over 200 Jersey City rising ninth graders have chosen to spend their summer (July 9 – Aug. 17) in the classrooms of Dickinson High School learning core academic concepts and character building, communication, decision making and goal setting skills that will help them succeed in high school and transition into college.
Does your city system provide appropriate programs to help poor and minority students prepare for higher learning and in the acquisition of a high school diploma? How can we reinvigorate the societal demand that everyone share in a fair and equitable educational system that isn’t separated by geography, made moribund by money, or sabotaged by uninspired learning prospects?