Imagine you can't read, write, or count. Would it hold you back?
You wouldn’t be able send text messages, surf the internet, read instructions on medication bottles or catch a bus.
Education is key to allowing us to live the lives we want, and to fulfilling our potential. It opens the doors to jobs, and people playing a meaningful part in society and our democracy. Unfortunately, today in the US many people are not receiving the education they deserve.
The cuts to education following the economic crisis have made a bad situation worse.
And it's hitting those from low-income backgrounds hardest. Education beats poverty and gives people a voice. It allows them to speak out and be heard, it allows them to make positive changes in their own lives and break the poverty cycle for good.
Millions of young Americans are denied education from their earliest years, as universal pre-Kindergarten does not exist and many four-year olds are simply not in school. That’s just the beginning.
For grades K through 12, conditions have detoritated. Over-crowded, under-funded public schools are the norm, where curriculums come up short. Kids are being short-changed on their future.
College tuition fees are skyrocketing, and this commercialization of education excludes many. And those that can afford are saddled with cripplingly debt - student debt has now topped a trillion dollars.
The Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to make sure all children and adults receive the education they deserve.
Let’s start with the numbers. In the last decade, pre-K spending fell more than $700 per child. The U.S. ranks 17th for science and 25th for mathematics in the world—“below average,” according to the OECD. In the last five years, 43 states have cut student funding for higher education. College student debt has overtaken credit card debt in the U.S.— to more than $1 trillion.
All that sounds like a lot. But then so does 77 million, which is the number of children and adults enrolled in school throughout the country in 2009-10 school year — from nursery school right up to college. That's massive. And it wasn't the case a hundred years ago. It's happened largely because of Government spending. And it proves that change is possible.
Of course, there are lots of reasons our young people are not receiving the education they need. Children now are getting 700 dollars less worth of spending on their pre K education. Declines at the nation's poorest schools are the steepest, as crowded, dilapidated schools set the standard. Arts, dance, drama, physical education have all been sidelined. Tuition and fees at public universities have surged almost 130% over the last 20 years, despite middle class incomes stagnating.
Young people from low income backgrounds are much more likely to miss out. Decent funding for public education can help reverse this trend and play a key role in reducing inequality.
Some of these problems come down to funding. And the cuts precipitated by the economic crisis, combined with rocketing costs of tertiary education mean our young people are not receiving the education they deserve. Higher education can't be a luxury – it's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.
What Robin Can Do
Despite the bad news, there is a lot to be hopeful about. First, that in this year alone 3.2 million people in this country will receive a high school diploma. That every child can receive a free and public education. We've come along away in the last few decades but sustained investment in necessary to ensure education levels move forwards, not backwards.
And then there’s also the indisputable fact that investment in education – with a particular focus on the early years – is one of the single best ways to ensure social progress.
It’s obvious, really. Educate people and the whole of society benefits. People’s job prospects increase. They earn a better living and build better services. Populations become healthier. Democracy grows as the gender gap reduces. And so on and so on and so on.
Put simply, education can change the world.
And the Robin Hood Tax could raise billions every year to make sure all children and all adults receive the education they deserve.