To me, all of our problems in this country as well as around the globe tie back to education in some way. I took an education course last semester and it opened my eyes to some of the specifics of education issues. As education standards increase in a region, the infant mortality rate gets lower, life expectancy is higher, income goes up etc. The statistics could go on forever. When you think about third world countries, education needs to be looked at from a more basic level. How can we keep kids in school and how can we get education to teach them the skills they need to survive in their environment. When you get into education issues in the United States it becomes more complicated in some ways because we have a system in place that has hardly changed since the creation of the public school system. You also have issues of public vs. private school, student loans, as well as the quality of the school being determined by the tax rate in a given town. There are a lot of issues at play here, but overall there needs to be ways to allow people in poverty and lower income brackets to be able to improve their lives. In short, we need to increase social mobility.
Solutions to education can be really tough, because like solutions to most problems in the world today, it would require money. I’ve put a little thought into this, and although all of these ideas require politics, money, and public support, I think there are certainly solutions to the problems of education. Even further, I think corporations could and should play a huge role in this as well.
In the new world of technology, access to information is easier and is getting easier by the day. Acquiring knowledge for research papers and other academic endeavors is more efficient than ever. Access to basic knowledge is also simple now. As the old saying goes, knowledge is power. To put that all together, I think there must be a way to create better and simpler educational programs on the Internet to allow people to gain enough knowledge to increase their earning potential. Public libraries would be a good place to start. Perhaps there could be a new wing dedicated to getting people of the public degrees. In third world countries there could be educational programs via laptops that could educate locals on issues prevalent to their own communities.
One way corporations could find ways to help out would be by reaching out to underprivileged communities to get young people from poor areas thinking about their careers. So many kids in poor areas go to school districts that simply don’t have the talent in the staff to inspire the kids to do anything to find ways out of their current situation (not trying not to knock teachers in poor areas because they have very tough jobs). Imagine if large corporations such as Apple, IBM or even Google partnered with schools to begin educating students about attainable careers. First off, this could be inspiration for some of these kids who would not otherwise get exposure to something like a large corporation providing hands on education. Additionally, there could be programs in place that would allow students who followed through to get entry-level jobs at these corporations. This would slowly create a network of people from these poor areas in larger corporations with better jobs. Although a small step, over time, programs like these could change more and more lives.
I think corporations have the power to make a difference in the world across a multitude of issues. There are examples of companies being able to do this while also having financial success. In my example above, it could even be seen as an investment in the future of the company by attempting to get hungry, driven workers. Not only is this an investment for the company, but for the entire country. If our workforce can be more educated and productive, it would allow the U.S. to stay in the divers seat globally for the long haul. A company like Apple has so much excess cash, I’m sure someone ten times smarter than me could devise a very effective plan to try to get people from poor areas involved in their company. To me, it goes back to nature versus nurture. Nurture wins. For the most part, people aren’t born smart or stupid, good or evil, a banker or a garbage man. The way someone grows up determines so much in his/her life. There are problems when kids are brought up in a place that doesn’t allow them to engage intellectually or develop skills to acquire earning potential. If there was a way to expose kids in low-income areas to the knowledge and guidance they need from an early age, the viscous cycle of poverty and lack of social mobility in this country could begin to get fixed.
Lastly, why do I care? I care because when I think back on my life, I think how easy most things were growing up. I came from a stable family and had a support system that allowed me to mature and stay on track. So many kids grow up not even having a chance. I think it’s completely realistic to be able to get more kids on the path to college and steady jobs. I also think that it’s the responsibility of those more fortunate to do what they can to help others less fortunate find their way.