It’s that time of year: cold season. Nobody likes to have a cold. For most, a cold is not life threatening, just an annoyance making us feel poorly and keeping us from being our best selves. There are lots of strains of the common cold. We can take remedies to lessen a cold’s symptoms, but the cold will run its course. We can’t prevent or cure the common cold.
Our education system has a cold. We treat its symptoms, but we seem to lack the ability to cure or prevent the illness. High dropout rates, too many graduates with minimal academic skills, waste, inefficiency, and violence are some of the symptoms. We spend billions of public and private dollars each year to remedy these and other problems in our schools. Yet, like the common cold, treating symptoms does not cure the illness.
It’s a liberal notion, but most, not all, of the litany of symptoms that characterize failing schools can be tied to one illness, one cold virus: poverty. We will never eradicate every strain of poverty in our nation, but we can certainly eradicate some, especially the systemic systems that enable poverty – those where charities have become self-sustaining enterprises.
The greatest remedy for poverty is education. Just like a cold, a bad education isn’t going to kill anyone. But unlike a cold, a lousy education lasts a lifetime.