I came across this speech yesterday and couldn't help but share it. While this is (hopefully) on it's way to going viral, I thought I'd shed some light on this video which hits so close to home. Elijah Miles, a recent product of the Baltimore City Public School System, talks about his experience growing up in Baltimore, and how his views of the future have changed due to Teach for America. Miles couldn't have said it better. He speaks of his experiences of growing up in a rough neighborhood, and his view on obtaining a better life.
We are living in a world where we discourage educators. In 2010, the average starting salary for a teacher with a Master's degree in Baltimore City was under $44,000/yr. With the increasing cost of living, how can you afford to be a teacher? And even as a teacher, with bills, taxes, and other various expenses, how can you walk in to a dingy, outdated, and dilapidated school building with high enough morale to inspire the youth. And not just any youth; I'm talking about the youth of the country where in 2007, 1.7 million kids under the age of 18 had incarcerated parents. The youth who have nothing to turn to other than "the corner" as Miles puts it.
Elijah Miles touches on an idea that many think is positive, but may in fact have negative consequences. This notion of a diploma being "a ticket out of the hood" makes people want to do better, but only for themselves. Not that you can blame them, but this "ticket" is only a one-way ticket. Not in the sense that you should go back to your old neighborhood, and get caught up in the life you used to live, but in the way that you never go back to bring positivity to all the kids who you were once like. The next generation of kids, who are all just trying to make it out of their neighborhoods alive, are the ones that need to see the success stories the most.
America, where are our priorities? In 2014, The US is projected to spend $618 billion dollars in military defense, while budget cuts roar through cities, tearing much needed teachers and facilities away from public education. What is the point of this defense spending if we are not even putting proper money into educating the generations that will eventually need it? We're setting ourselves up for failure. When you attempt to build a society up, but ignore it's fundamental foundation of education, you're bound to encounter a major collapse from the ground floor.