October 22, 2017

Education Is a Right, Not a Privilege

Stack of books with an apple on top.

Photo courtesy of Supporting Children.

by Kelsey Dass ’18

Opinion Staff

Every child in America should be granted an equal opportunity to succeed, regardless of which state, city, race, religion, or gender the child associates with.

Coming from the perspective of a senior elementary and special education major at Providence College, it is time to think about where to land my first teaching job. The education I received in order to become a qualified and certified teacher cost, give or take, $250,000 without interest.

PC has a high-quality program that produces high-quality teachers. However, that often, but not always, means that those teachers will want to teach in schools that have some of the highest paying salaries.

Teachers who want higher paying jobs often end up in higher paying districts. Those districts can pay the teachers more because the taxes in those areas are higher. This often means that the incomes of those families in that specific district is on average, relatively high.

What quality of education are children in lower income areas receiving? There is no doubt that high-quality teachers do in fact teach in lower-income school districts, but that certainly does not make up the majority.

Children do not choose the life they are brought up in, and they are born into whatever family they have. The status of their family is not up to them, and there lies the problem.

Unfortunately, the frightening statistics do not lie. “Minority students are more likely to be taught by inexperienced teachers than experienced teachers in 33 states,” says a recent survey conducted by the New York Times.

There is something incredibly disturbing about this statistic. Each and every child should walk into a school and feel the quality of their education is just as good as their neighbor’s. They should be taught by professionals who have knowledge and passion in this field of work.

If certain areas do not have the capability to pay teachers higher wages, they certainly do not have the means to provide resources. You walk into some schools, and every student has a Chromebook. You walk into another school and there is one computer in the class that the students must share.

How is that just? How is that equal opportunity?

Did their families buy these Chromebooks? Absolutely not, but the taxes the families paid in the district certainly helped fund that resource.

On a national level,  the New York Times reports that districts with the most students of color receive 15 percent less per student in state and local funding than the whitest districts.

The system is broken. As a nation, if we cannot figure out how to even the playing field, there is going to continue to be a major disparity. This disparity continues to damage the values of equality and liberty that this country was founded on.

Every child deserves an equal opportunity to learn. We will never represent the truest form of liberty until that happens.

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