Fix the Economy … Fix Our Broken Schools

We sent President Obama to Washington because we longed for real change — especially in our economy — and we knew that he is the one who can achieve the lofty goals he set and we need.  We got the ball rolling with taking the necessary steps to fix a broken health care system, which is 100 years overdue and is crippling our economy on every level.

As Washington continues to find ways to shore up our economy, create new job opportunities through green industries and more, if we do not fix our broken education system, it does not matter how many new jobs are created.  Our broken education system will force us to continue to import a growing workforce from outside of our borders.

Last month, Robert Longley wrote an article entitled, Lifetime Earnings Soar with Education. Longley breaks it down in dollars and cents and begins by asking:

How much is higher education worth in cold hard money? A college master’s degree is worth $1.3 million more in lifetime earnings than a high school diploma, according to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau. … The report titled “The Big Payoff: Educational Attainment and Synthetic Estimates of Work-Life Earnings” reveals that over an adult’s working life, high school graduates can expect, on average, to earn $1.2 million; those with a bachelor’s degree, $2.1 million; and people with a master’s degree, $2.5 million.

Clearly, if we focus our attention on achieving higher education, we will change the face of our economy.  Moreover, if we do not teach our children well, they will fail.  We cannot continue to push our students “through the system” (social promotion) wherein high school seniors put on their cap and gown, walk across the stage, reach out and grab that diploma but is no more prepared to successfully compete in today’s global society than he or she was on the day they entered as a freshman.

Why? We have low expectations because they are poor, or they come from a single-family household or a household with a different lifestyle, a different religion.  We give them points for showing up in class because we assume that is their best.  We grade their history papers with an “A” for effort despite an obvious lack of grammatical knowledge. We give them citizenship awards because they never say a word or complain; they behave well because we barely hear or see them.  They are invisible. It is no wonder that half of our high school students (graduates and dropouts) find themselves as reluctant participants of the criminal justice system in some way.

There are those teachers who do their best everyday to make lemonade; to find a way to share knowledge and inspiration with too little tools, often taking money from their own pocket to get the job done.

Out students, our teachers, they need our assistance.  Change will not come to education unless we all get involved. Like politics, education is local and we must start right here in our own backyard. It is up to us to put in place a sustainable education system in order for our youth to be able to successfully compete in a global society.

Education 2010 is a three-part dialogue that recruits the entire village and empowers them with the tools necessary to create change and then multiplies the process in every neighborhood. In short, we find substantive grassroots efforts to engage everyone in order to make a difference.

The third dialogue in the Hartford series is, “Successful Students Ready for the 21st Century.” Co-Hosted by Hartford City Councilwoman rJo Winch and The Sheff Movement Coalition, this dialogue will take place at Hartford City Hall Council Chambers, 550 Main Street, Hartford, on Wednesday, March 31st, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

Critical to our success at each dialogue has been our ability to draw on the knowledge and expertise of a  distinguished and diverse panel.  We are honored to have as panelists for this event the Hon. Kenneth Green (State Rep. 1st Assembly District), Elizabeth Horton Sheff (Sheff Movement), Norma Neumann-Johnson (Principal/Breakthrough Magnet School), Paul Diego Holzer (Education Programs Dir./Achieve Hartford), Clifford Wallace Thornton (Author & Founder/Efficacy), and Jim Boucher (Director of Future Workforce Division/ Capital Workforce Partners).

After a brief program, panelists will lead breakout sessions on Does Race Matter, Fixing Broken Schools, Prisons/Eliminating the Pipeline and Workforce Development.

Sign up Online Is Easy @ Or, send an email to Admission is free and open to the general public.

See more about Education 2010 at

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