Thursday, April 21, 2005

 

Where the children are

And the money isn't.

New York City is overrun with school-age children. So are a few other cities and states (mostly those with high rates of immigration, legal or otherwise). Meanwhile, Minneapolis, Portland, and Seattle are closing schools to deal with their growing dearths (if that's not an oxymoron) of pupils. Yet those cities are extremely wealthy.

Does it not make sense to shed forever the outmoded idea that primary and secondary education is 100% exclusively a local matter? All of us, no matter where we live, have a stake in there being an educated citizenry. All of us, no matter where we live, need to ensure that today's children become tomorrow's prepared adults. Why should cities without children - but who will need those children in the future as their workforce - not contribute to the education of that workforce - no matter where it currently lives? They don't need schools, but they will need the schooled. If they have no children to educate, why should they not be expected to make at least a modest contribution to the education of children elsewhere?

I know they do, in the form of state and federal taxes that get redistributed elsewhere. But they could do more. In many cities, businesses have stepped in to help educate local kids, for the same reason - they have a very direct interest in there being a qualified future workforce. Cities and states across America have no less of a vital interest at stake. We are one country, not fifty. Where the means and the ends are not geographically contiguous, it is worth considering doing a little intersectional transfer. It's for everyone's benefit.
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