Education in major cities is beyond the point of “fixing.”  There is a crisis that most do not want to know about because the thought of it all may be too much to bear or it may not matter to you.  Truthfully, there are more reasons to be informed than there are to remain ignorant.  Ironically, the duality of the word ignorance is essentially at the center of inner-city education.  Whether nestled peacefully in the suburbs or immersed in the inner city, the education of urban youth is paramount to the success of this country as a whole.

I have taught students that fight me when I try to expand their vocabularies.  They scoff at the thought of knowing four and five syllable words because education, at least in the inner city, does not provide for individuals and the family.  Of course there are those that have earned degrees from colleges and did so from some of the most destitute and downtrodden sections of America’s biggest cities.  However, we are more apt to recognize the starting forward of a popular basketball team or the hottest rapper in the game before we can rattle off the names of those individuals.  It is difficult to tell a sixteen year old child that although in his pocket is more money than some teachers make in a month, education is far superior to selling drugs on a street corner.  After all, a college degree has fed less families than the drug game has in many of these students’ lives.

In the city of Philadelphia today, the new numbers guru passed down a mandate that schools across the district must cut their energy consumption drastically.  The recommendation of turning out lights in classrooms and hallways is the number one solution to this problem.  Not only are we talking about schools that are drastically underfunded because of the decisions of a few that affects the lives of hundreds of thousands, the term technology once meant more computers, white boards, and projectors.  Sadly, it now means a teacher can claim that the technology used in his or her classroom is from the flickering lights above their heads.  Does this mean dress codes will now include a miner’s hat?

I referenced that the education of inner-city students did not effect just the neighborhoods that these students come from, it means that in the next fifteen years, our students will fall even further behind because the numbers game is essentially a proverbial hit squad that discounts the individual and looks only at the bottom line.  We ask, “how could this happen?”  As once superintendent, Arlene Ackerman, sits and collects unemployment after receiving nearly a million dollar buyout of her contract, the mortgaged futures of the students she claimed to work tirelessly for, are now literally sitting in the dark.

Those students that lack the basic skills of their suburban counterparts will find themselves in colleges and universities, admitted purely for financial reasons, and will fail these very students because they come far less prepared than their suburban peers.  Sadly, we accept these decisions and look befuddled at the government.  How can we as a Nation turn to a government that is hemorrhaging as we speak?  Before we turn to a government that makes it abundantly clear that a single test dictates funding, we must become pioneers and pave the way for success across all racial, political, cultural, and economic lines.

Before you are ready to point your finger at others, perhaps we should all stand in front of a mirror and ask the hard questions of what we as individuals and Americans can do to impact the lives of others.  “Joe the Plumber” gained national recognition for his every man’s perspective on America.  We work hard, we earn every dollar we make, and we refuse to let our money go to programs that appear to act solely as siphons for money.  Ask a child taken from an abusive home if your tax dollars are wasted.  Ask the inner city student that only eats when she is in school if your tax dollars are wasted on the likes of someone with whom you may have never held a conversation.  Imagine the elderly that cling to an existence that provides them with just enough to survive.  Quality of life is not predicated on whether your television projects in 3D, your central air system also purifies the air in your home, or the car you drive can park itself.  No one wants to admit that quality of life stems from brotherhood and equality.  If you say social programs are good, then you are against democracy.

If Democracy means casting off the unwanted, then I must be a dirty socialist.  If caring for the well being of those that sprung from the loins of those ill equipped, ill educated, and ill funded is a socialist mentality, then tell me where the secret meetings are held.  Do not get me wrong; I love THINGS.  I want to give to my children in the same fashion that celebrities with children named after mountains, fruit, and fictional characters provide for their families.  However, when my seven year old says she does not like the News because it scares her, then I have given her more than I would have ever given her if I bought an iTouch, a Big Wheel, or a vacation.

The notion that our government will somehow save itself from its own blinding greed is laughable.  If you want change, then make change.  Stand in line at the polls in November, but before you lull yourself into believing that the government cares for the best interests of ALL of its citizens, ask yourself if your vote will make the final decision in an election.  I promise you that your vote will never become the makings of a Kevin Costner movie.  If you want to strengthen your country, it will not be through the use of one finger pressing the name of a candidate in an election.  Change will occur when you decide to become part of the solution. Rather than allow the political aspirations of someone else to motivate your work, remember that your motivation to make change will ultimately come when you decide to make a change in the life of another.

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Comments
  1. alex says:

    I sent this one to the editor of philly magazine. Good stuff man

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