Editor's Note (The View From Here)

Good Schools Affect Everyone

When we talk education, we immediately think impact on students. Students are our primary concern, but the effects of a quality education system reach much farther… into the workplace, businesses and the community.

The effect of education on students is easy to see. The high school degree that once opened doors to a promising career opportunity is now a minimum requirement in the job market. The shift is to jobs that require not only a high school, but also a postsecondary education. In recent years, workers with college degrees had the lowest unemployment rates — and highest salaries.

According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, when looking at the earnings of workers between 25 and 54 since 1983, earnings of high school dropouts have fallen by two percent, earnings of high school graduates have increased by 13 percent, earnings of people with Bachelor’s degrees have increased by 34 percent, and earnings of people with graduate degrees have increased by 55 percent. Failure to complete high school has severe consequences not only for students, but for the community as well. On average, dropouts not only earn less money than high school graduates throughout their lives, they also make up a larger percentage of persons on public assistance and a disproportionate percentage of our nation’s prison population — costing the community.

The effect of a quality education on business and industry is clear. Businesses are attracted to location where good schools create a well qualified workforce. By 2018, the economy will create 46.8 million job openings — 13.8 million brand-new jobs and 33 million “replacement jobs” (positions vacated by workers who have retired or permanently left their occupations.) Nearly two-thirds of these 46.8 million jobs — some 63 percent — will require workers with at least some college education. When businesses locate in a community, the standard of living improves and the community thrives. The wages paid to skilled workers add to the gross domestic product and to tax revenue, providing communities with the dollars needed to provide other valued services for residents.

To the community, good schools are a source of community pride. A quality education system means economic growth, lower crime rates, increased participation, volunteerism and charitable giving. Local residents reap the benefits of increased property values, a tax base that supports the continuation of local services and a better standard of living. The support shown by the community for their local schools is a reflection of the value they place on learning, a value that is imitated by our students. To ensure our future, all of us need to support our schools.

This article originally appeared in the March 2014 issue of School Planning & Management.

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