Repairing Our Opportunity Society

In a video excerpt discussing their 2009 book, Creating an Opportunity Society, Brookings Institute Fellows Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill propose that poor public policy, a broken education system and “the behavior” of the poor themselves sustain our vicious cycle of poverty in America.

While I hate the “blame the victim” argument, they highlights critical points: a) Americans believe in an opportunity society where everyone deserves a chance to realize their full potential; b) Some kids are born with distinct disadvantages; c) Low-income kids attending sub-par schools are at risk for poor academic outcomes unless they benefit from positive educational intervention; d) Our education system needs higher quality programs and teachers especially with respect to Head Start.

While reading the research I though of my work with adults who grew up in poverty, did not complete high school now struggling to get a job providing a livable wage.  Clearly there’s some truth to the quote by Frederick Douglass, “It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

During his State of the Union Address, Obama says, “If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child — become a teacher.  Your country needs you.”  I’m afraid it will take more than that.

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