Social Inequality and the Need for Education – by Natsuya Uesugi

Social inequality is systematically destroying the livelihood of many inner city communities. The threat is not only from unemployment, poverty, lack of social services, homelessness and the effects of gangs, violence and drug addiction, but rather it is an underpinning of the very fabric of society.

Many of these ills are intrinsic to the environment and although there have been programs that try to counteract the effects of poverty, there are still large gaps in the equity that people in these communities have available to them.

One of the key things that can help with these ills is education. That is the true leveler in this world. Many inner cities have seen after school programs and education grants cut over the past stretch of years. Those that have are able to access strong academic programs, Head Start and private school. In the inner cities these programs are priced out and either too expensive or not at all available.

With education comes opportunity. The current economic environment is technology focused and no longer driven solely by manufacturing. In the past a manufacturing job might be the ticket out of poverty but many communities have seen manufacturing jobs taken overseas by large corporations looking to augment their bottom line with cheap labor. With the Internet age the economy is now driven by technology. Many workers who had a manufacturing background have lost their jobs due to automation and outsourcing and are not able to keep up in this tech savvy environment.

More needs to be done in community colleges and work programs for high school students. With after school programs being cut and computers not available in some inner city classrooms we are seeing an up tick in ill prepared young people who are not ready for a technology environment. Large companies are looking for tax breaks from cities to bring their jobs to thriving economic areas; there is less incentive to put an installation in an inner city.

Education at a young age can give children and teenagers confidence and see that there is a way out of poverty. Even college graduates today struggle to find entry-level jobs and these are usually children that were able to go to college and gain a degree. Inner cities see low attendance rates in schools and less of an incentive towards education because there are other family struggles that take precedence. The need for education in poverty stricken areas cannot be overlooked. With a good education doors can open and bring opportunities that might not have been available before. Work study programs and on the job training as well as technical skills programs and youth training are all necessary to enhance the prospects of those from lower income areas.

People come to the United States from other countries to find freedom and live the American dream. We cannot circumvent this for people living in the poorer communities in the United States that for no fault of their own are dealing with the inequality and lack of programs that have been fostered for years. No one is saying that there is not an economic issue in the United States of those with opportunity and those without it, but we can fix this by providing solid educational programs for our youth in the inner cities and rural areas.

Everyone wants to have the opportunity to thrive and have a happy life. The struggles of poverty make young people think they are not heard and don’t have a voice for their frustrations. We need to do better to combat poverty. The inequalities in society are complex and have roots in many different systems. No one wants to live paycheck to paycheck or not know from where their next meal is going to come. But unemployment, homelessness and adversity are all issues that we have to see as real. Education can help to level the playing field and bring opportunity that might have been stacked against many.

We need more programs for our youth to help promote positive self-esteem, entrepreneurship, mentorship, and equality. With that we can hopefully see a close to the great divide we see in our cities, from those that enjoy a solid stable life from those that struggle. Education can be that catalyst. We just need to invest in our youth and strive with them as they come full circle and fight against the ills that society has left for them, marginalizing them. Education is the key.

Natsuya Uesugi
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