Making a Living (the case for an education)

"For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." 2 Thessalonians 3:10

Although a man of the Christian faith, I seldom quote Scripture in order to bolster an argument. However, I have in other places announced that our strategy is to excel as a testimony to and as a way of bringing glory to God.

It is therefore fitting to quote God's Scripture as we make the case, first, to work (earn a living) and second, the need for a good education as a tool for this necessary part of life.

Noted historian Carter G. Woodson, once observed that making a living is "...the first essential in civilization."

I guess the very first point one should take away is the instruction to work for yourself in order to feed yourself.

I saw a T-Shirt the other day with an inscription that read "If it were not for me, you would starve to death."

That was probably a political statement, tinged with some anger, at the real or perceived notion that some will not work to eat.

The black community (my community) is in desperate need of significant social uplift. The facts and figures will come later. But, you have anecdotal knowledge of our condition.

Lagging achievement on standardized measures, high dropout rates, high rates of poverty and incarceration, are the all to familiar benchmarks of the black community.

The Council for A Better Louisiana (CABL) recently released its Louisiana Fact Book for 2011.

The CABL document makes the statement that "Educational attainment levels drive nearly every social indicator we struggle with in Louisiana from poverty, to crime, to health care and self-sufficiency."

To further quote directly for the publication and create a common currency for our readers, we note the following: (Special Note: CABL did not in any way suggest these points applied to the black community. I am choosing to use the statements for their overall value to this discussion)

1. 65% of the nationally incarcerated population does not have a high school degree compared to 13% with a college degree. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the nation and is at the top with regard to many crime statistics.

2. Death rates are three-and-a half times higher for individuals age 25-64 without a high school degree compared to those with some post-secondary education.

3. 38% of individuals ages 25 or older without a high school degree live in households participating in the publicly-funded Medicaid program compared to just 7% with a bachelor's degree or higher.

4. Median Income for full-time workers with a high school degree is $33,800 compared to $42,000 {+$8200 or 24% higher-my emphasis} with an associate's degree and $55,700 {+$13,700 or 33% higher-my emphasis} for someone with a bachelor's degree.

5. In 2009 the national unemployment rate for those with a high school degree was approaching 10% compared with less that 5% among those with a bachelor's degree.

Well, that is my case for an education. It seems clear from these data that there are clear advantages for the educated, and their families.

My further emphasis is that we should strive to do our very best in school. A focus on the measures of success (see page on this site) will aid the community in monitoring our performance and progress.

Now, of course, there are even greater benefits that accrue to our society as a whole, as we become more educated. Some point out that continued maintenance of our very way of life is also at stake.

The case is clear. The benefits are clear. What remains unclear is whether or not we have the collective will to make the needed personal changes. I believe we do.

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