Hamilton County, OH November 2, 1999 Election
Smart Voter

The Importance of Education to the Future of the Region

By John J. Gilligan

Candidate for Board Member; Cincinnati City School District

This information is provided by the candidate
In the rapidly changing, high-tech global economy of the 21st Century the children now in our public schools will be our greatest asset, or our greatest liability.
Virtually everyone by now has begun to feel the impact of the enormous economic and technological changes which are sweeping the globe, and which will continue to transform all of human society in the decades ahead We have all heard that we are in a global competition for economic progress and prosperity, and we have all recognized one of the most significant changes in the world in which we live: millions of good, well payingjobs available to relatively untrained and unskilled workers are vanishing. More sophisticated, automated machinery is eliminating some jobs, and competition with workers in Asia, Latin America and Africa, who can exist on incomes that are a tiny fraction of what it costs an American family to live in decency, are rapidly displacing millions of others.

The current burgeoning economy and soaring stock market should not blind us to the fact that Americans are not sharing equally in the benefits of our economic boom. There is today a growing gap between those in our country whose standard of living continues to soar, and the workers who have actually lost 15% of their purchasing power in the past twenty years. In no other industrialized nation is the disparity of wealth and income between rich and poor so wide as it is in the United States, and it continues to grow. Unless we are ready to take the steps necessary to reverse these trends we will have a society in which a growing underclass of unsldhcd people will be unable to keep up, never mind advance, and they will of necessity become increasingly dependent upon the more successful segments of the society for their very existence.

It is already too late to help some of these people to develop the sIdUs necessary for a better life, but there is still time to reach their children and to provide them with the means to become productive members of society. Should we fail to do so, we will pay an enormous cost in lost productivity, as well as an ever increasing cost of maintaining those who cannot survive by their own efforts. Consider the costs of maintaining millions of people and their progeny on some form of public assistance, whatever it be called, and what a drag that will be on the whole economy. And with the knowledge that 80% of those who are becoming part of an ever growing prison population (the largest in the world) have not finished high school, we can add to the cost of perpetual welfare the cost of crime control, incarceration, and parole programs.

A much more economical use of our resources would be to apply them to the education of our children in order to help them to become self sustaining and productive members of our community. And in human terms, how much better for all of us such an approach would be.

If we carefidly considered the relative costs and long range benefits of the Idnds of public investments which we are called upon to make m the interests of creating a brighter and more secure future for our region, we might even come to the conclusion that a sustained effort to make the Cincinnati Public School system the very best in the nation would yield even greater dividends than the investments we are already comnutted to make m sports stadiums and convention centers.

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