BY KAELIN CLARK
Wealth inequality and education affects every single person in this country, whether they know it or not. Wealth inequality is the disproportional imbalance of wealth between neighborhoods, races, genders, and social classes. In Boston, there is a lot of wealth inequality and often, this causes segregation inside schools, neighborhoods, and other communities. A big solution to help fight against wealth inequality would be to invest and give further support to Boston’s education system. Therefore, investment in our education system must be prioritized as it leads to more employment, more financial stability with higher salaries, and youth programs open opportunities to those who wouldn't have access to them on their own.
The more people that have access to education, the more people will become employed. Over time and especially recently, more and more jobs prefer people with high education levels because employers want someone who has been specifically trained to do a certain job so they can succeed in doing that job well for the employer. For example, in Kiese Laymon’s “Outside,” he tells his personal story of being a black college professor and trying to help his friend, a formerly incarcerated black man who has just been incarcerated again. Laymon hints that with higher education comes more job opportunities. He reflects, “I had three degrees and Dave hadn’t graduated high school… earned nineteen hundred dollars a month after taxes for talking to young people...and Dave was legally unemployed” (Laymon 28). Although there are other factors, such as Dave’s criminal record, in his unemployed status, the direct causation between education and employment is clear here. Laymon had more extensive education and a better job, however, Dave hadn’t gotten as far in his academic career so there were fewer jobs that he was eligible for, resulting in his unemployment. The author also reveals that overcoming wealth inequality when it is already working against you is extremely rare. Laymon says, “white colleagues routinely put their hands on my back and called me lucky. They meant that Southern black boys like me were more likely to end up incarcerated than working beside wonderful white faculty at so-called elite liberal arts colleges” (Laymon 30). Because educational opportunities aren’t evenly spread out within people, it can be hard to get the same results and success as those just given opportunities. Those who aren’t given opportunities have to work to find these opportunities and take advantage of them because they have to work harder for them. However, with government support and money, people will be able to get the education they deserve and be able to reach their full potential in school and in life.
Education should be prioritized because more education leads to higher paying jobs and more financial stability. College gets more and more expensive as years go by, and college degrees are becoming a lot more favorable to employers. Most stable jobs require multiple years of secondary education to ensure that they are experienced and have the proper knowledge to be able to do the job adequately. College is too expensive for many people to afford, but it is needed to get the jobs they want or need, as written in “Conclusion: Slow Growth and Inequality are Political Choices. We Can Choose Otherwise” by Joseph Stiglitz. He states that “the children of the poor can neither the advanced degrees that are increasingly required for employment nor the unpaid internships that provide the alternative route to ‘good’ jobs”(Stiglitz 2). The lower class are stuck between two options- a low paying job or paying off college debt for a really long time. Cheaper college education options or more need-based scholarships would allow for more people having access to a way to get a college degree so they can get better jobs, often including better salaries and more benefits, leading them to have more financial stability. Also, the highest paying jobs require a secondary education degree. For example, in a Boston Economy Report from 2018 by BostonPlans.org, the jobs with the highest weekly wage in 2016 were Finance and Insurance ($4,142), Management of Companies and Enterprises ($2,825), and Professional and Technical Services ($2,536) (Boston Plans 43). People need to go to college for jobs like these so they can take specific classes to prepare them for the job and also teach them all the necessary information and techniques they may need to know before actually working at the job. If people become more highly educated, they will be more able to work towards getting these jobs that will provide them with the money they need. With sufficient support being given to the education system like cheaper tuition or more scholarships, people will have the opportunity to do and they will continue to have this opportunity if they change their mind when they’re older.
Others may state that other areas, like business ventures or transportation, should be prioritized as the focus area to combat wealth inequality in Boston in 2019 because it helps people get where they need to go. They may claim that “if we had a better public transformation system that made it easier and more affordable for working-class people to commute to where jobs are available, then a higher percentage of our population would be working and paying taxes” (Stiglitz 4). Although this may be true to some extent, opportunities for jobs opened by transportation does not compare to the opportunities for employment opened by education. Transportation opens up jobs within different areas, but education opens up jobs within different fields, salaries, levels, and many others. Also, if people do not have the education they need to be able to do a job, there is no point in having transportation if they do not have a job or educational opportunities. In conclusion, you cannot have transportation to fight wealth inequality without having education and youth programs first.
Investing and prioritizing education and youth programs will fight against wealth inequality because it creates more job opportunities, it leads to higher paying jobs, and youth programs opens doors for students. Education is the starting point to many important things in society- such as new ideas, new technologies, and new discoveries. More educated Bostonians also will increase the working class population and therefore taxpayers, further better Boston’s economy. Finally, by opportunities being more evenly spread out, more people will have access to adequate education and with knowledge comes power. More people, in this case specifically lower class people, will be able to speak out on controversial topics with factual logic and evidence, making more voices in America heard. Overall, education is the key that opens doors to new opportunities in life.
Kaelin is a top scholar at Boston Collegiate Charter School. When she is not studying, she is excelling on the soccer field, basketball court, and softball diamond as a BCCS Hurricane.