Fix Education in America, Starting with its Educators
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The quality of education in America varies widely between different states, cities, and districts. Chicago Ridge School District in Illinois spent "$9,795 ... per child in 2013 ... well below that year's national average of $11,841" (npr.org, April 2016). Ridge has 2 elementary schools and one middle school with most students coming from low-income families and/or have English as a second language. There is only one nurse for all three schools and the elementary schools share an art and music teacher. Another district "less than an hour north, in Chicago's affluent suburbs... Rondout School, the only campus in Rondout District 72, spends $28,639 on their 22 teachers and 145 students. They have small class sizes and an individualized learning plan and teachers have more experience and "earn, on average, more than $90,000." Their lunches are prepared on-campus with a vegetarian option. Since public schools get the majority of their funding from local property taxes, schools in wealthier areas get more funding and better teachers.
To resolve this issue, and raise the quality of education, all teachers who wish to participate in the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program must have a Master's Degree, rather than a Bachelor's Degree, to be considered as a Highly Qualified teacher, as well as the pre-existing requirements of teaching full-time for five complete and consecutive academic years in a low-income school. This will result in better qualified teachers teaching in communities that need it the most.
With a higher degree, teachers will be able to better prepare their students so more students will go to college, and stay there until they get their desired level of education. With a higher education, both the teachers and students will be able to make more money, and when consumers make more money, they spend it, and stimulate the economy.
Higher education has also been proven to benefit one’s health. The Center of Society and Wealth at Virginia Commonwealth University states “Economic hardship and other stressors can have a cumulative, negative effect on health over time.” Allostatic load refers to the “effects of chronic exposure to physiological stress responses. Exposure to high allostatic load over time may predispose individuals to diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, gastrointestinal disease, and infections and has been associated with higher death rates among older adults.” (Virginia Commonwealth University, 2015).
So, by changing this one requirement in the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program, more people in low-income communities will get a higher education, make more money, and be healthier. It's a large benefit for one shift in policy.
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