If we haven’t prepared our young people to be financially self-sufficient once they finish their k-12 education, we have failed our most fundamental duty.
The “we” is meant to be inclusive. A strong education system is good not just for the national economy, it is good for the citizens of the state and local community. Ultimately, a good education seeks to improve the lives of people; which means creating conditions in which people can get jobs that pay enough to support a family and provide economic security. This leads to a virtuous cycle: working people who can afford to buy goods and services, supporting local businesses, and the local economy.
The connection between education and income is clear. A high school diploma, technical college certificate, or college degree not only increases one’s skills and productivity, but signals to employers that the individual is motivated, can complete tasks, is ambitious, and has self expectation. The more highly educated an individual is, the more likely they are able to participate and compete in the job market, to have a job, to work more hours, and to be paid more; and less likely to be unemployed. But the benefits of education go beyond the economic returns. Higher levels of education also correspond to improved health, lower rates of mortality, and lower rates of crime.
Education includes both academic and technical/trades training.
Research has shown that greater parent education correlates positively with children’s health, cognitive abilities, and academic achievement. The children of more highly paid workers are also less likely to grow up in poverty, less likely to be poor as adults, and more likely to be better educated and paid as adults; therefore less likely to rely on public assistance. The benefits of a more educated population accrue not just to more educated workers, but to future generations and the broader society.
An educated workforce is more attractive to new businesses, encourages existing businesses to expand locally, and can incite local entrepreneurs to build new businesses in support of these.
It has been said time and again that our education system is "a system that works for the system." It's time that it starts working for our kids. Our goal should be to promote strategies for eliminating achievement gaps and for raising the bar for high achievers that are aligned with the needs of students, families, business, and communities.
In the United States, one of our greatest strengths is our deep conviction that with an education and a dream, every American can achieve his or her own success. Today, that ambition isn't enough. If we are going to cultivate the next generation of American success stories; we must invest, innovate, and tap the intellect and ideas of every possible sector to do it.