Education: It’s a Privilege
By Pamela D. Wilson, CSA, MS, BS/BA, CG
We have the privilege of living in the United States, touting itself as one of the most educated countries in the world. Yet there are other countries like Afghanistan – that compares itself to the standards of the United States back in 1900. The average life expectancy today of a person born in Afghanistan is 46. Afghanistan is one of the least developed countries in the world, 70% of its population lives in poverty. Fifty seven percent of men and 80% of women in Afghanistan are illiterate, unable to read or write. 1
A high school education reduces government spending on healthcare, crime and welfare. A high school education results in higher tax revenues. A high school education results in greater overall health and wellbeing.
Let me paint a picture of a country where almost one third of all students who enter high school don’t graduate on time — if ever, a country where 1 million high school students drop out each year. Eighty percent of dropouts depend on the government for healthcare assistance. Every youth who drops out and enters a life of drugs and crime costs $1.7-2.3 million dollars in crime control and health expenditures. It’s no surprise the children of dropouts are more likely to drop out, to live in poverty. This country, it’s in our own backyard. These are education statistics for the United States.
Each day in the United States, individuals spend 4 hours watching television, 3 hours listening to the radio and 14 minutes reading magazines. Thirty percent of high school graduates never read another book for the rest of their lives. Forty two percent of college graduates never read another book after college. Eighty percent of families didn’t buy or read a book last year. Seventy percent of U.S. adults have not been in a bookstore in the last five years. 2
Millions of books sit idle in public libraries each year –yet the cost to check out a library book — nothing, zero, nada. I was privileged, my mother Rose took me to the library at the age of five to attend Saturday book club. Ever since then I’ve loved books, newspapers, magazines, school. I’m fascinated by the knowledge and education books provide. There isn’t enough time in the day for me to read. Mom – even though you’re no longer here on earth, thank you inspiring in me a love for reading and an insatiable interest in education.
As you walk by a newspaper stand today, drive by a bookstore or a library considers the benefits of reading. The benefits and privileges of education. How many of you watch 4 or more hours of television a day or use television to babysit your children? Think about how fortunate we are NOT to have been born in Afghanistan, where life expectancy is 46 and the poverty rate is 70%. Think about how fortunate we are to be born, to live in the United States –to have access to education. Talk to your children, the young people you know — and encourage them to stay in school.
Visit the website Learning to Finish, from the Pew Partnership for Civic Change for more information about dropout and graduation rates including the benefits of education.
© 2012, 2013 Pamela D. Wilson, All Rights Reserved.