The Power of Education
As I stepped out of my car, I noticed a congregation of young adult black men gathered outside of the “Dis ‘n Dat” mart on the corner of the street. I thought to myself, “What an odd place for a group of 23 year old men to be gathered at 3:00 PM on a Tuesday afternoon? Shouldn’t people that age have jobs, or be in graduate school, or doing something productive?” Despite my questioning, I continued on my way and headed inside of the inner-city elementary school where I went every week to tutor a fourth grade boy. Nearly every student in the library that day was black; some were there just to get a little bit of help here and there on their homework, while others were multiple grade levels behind in terms of their reading ability. After helping the student I tutored with his math and spelling homework that he was assigned, we had a conversation about how he was excited to go home and enjoy dinner with his single mother. We said goodbye, and as I drove home from our tutoring session that day, I began to recount the meaning of the events that I had just experienced in my head.
The neighborhood where I went to tutor is in the inner-city of Toledo. The corner of Dorr Street and Forest Avenue is essentially an all-black neighborhood, and many consider it to be the ghetto of Toledo. The black men on the corner likely grew up in that neighborhood, one deprived of opportunity, and they were likely doing absolutely nothing on a Tuesday afternoon because they are unemployed. Although I cannot say this for certain, there is also a decent chance those men were involved in gangs and drug-dealing. The elementary school where I tutored is Martin Luther King Jr. Academy. Consisting of an overwhelmingly economically disadvantaged minority population, the school lacks the resources and opportunities that are necessary to provide a high-quality education. My experiences on that Tuesday afternoon opened my eyes to the segregated education system that still exists today in America.
While many Americans disagree about gun control, gay marriage, and welfare, there is a fundamental American principle that I believe we can all agree upon: equality of opportunity. Yet in America, where we go to school is determined by where we live, and a system of societal segregation seeks to perpetuate an education system lacking in equality of opportunity and lacking in freedom of choice. I believe in the power of education. I believe that teaching, mentoring, and leading a person is the best way to help a person to help themself. I believe that restructuring the American education system seeks to treat the causes of many of the problems in our country, unlike redistributive programs that only treat the symptoms. Only by reforming the policies that govern education in our country can we bring the chance to succeed to those young black men on the corner and similar neighborhoods across the country where opportunities have been lacking for decades. This, I believe.