Education, Leadership and Equity: A Look Forward

Posted by: Beyond Limits

Excerpt from speech delivered by Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. – December 14, 2016 – Center for American Progress

Too many students still don’t finish high school, and when they do, too many aren’t ready for college. The relationship between poverty and educational achievement in the U.S. is among the strongest in the world.

Ensuring more Americans get the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in our country matters more than ever.

As recently as the 1970s, people with only a high school education could qualify for nearly three-quarters of the nation’s jobs. Today, that number is below 40 percent.

One recent analysis found that 95 percent of the jobs created since 2008 required some postsecondary education or training. Think about that. If you didn’t finish high school—or even if you graduated—you can knock on 95 doors looking for a job before one opens. And everyone else without higher education will be trying to squeeze through those last five doors alongside you.

It is not enough for those already prosperous to prosper. Unless we are ensuring that all Americans can meaningfully participate in our nation’s growth, our nation will not succeed. The simple fact, confirmed by the research, is that reducing income inequality positively influences economic output. When everyone has a fair chance, whole societies are healthier, better off and more productive.

I know some will argue that equity conflicts with liberty. But it’s not liberty when the happenstance of birth binds a child to a life of limited possibilities. True liberty is the opportunity to take our lives as far as our drive and talent allow.

Please click here for full transcript.