Education = Opportunity

Too many of America’s children grow up without the skills needed to thrive in the twenty-first century. Low levels of performance among the most disadvantaged create long-term problems, particularly in an economy in which higher skill levels are more and more valued and the wages available to less-skilled workers are deteriorating. Inequality persists.

In the photo above, I am in 9th grade, posing with the neighborhood gang's graffiti. I grew up in Downtown LA in an 800-square foot apartment. The kids in my neighborhood were routinely involved in drugs and gangs. Teen pregnancy was a huge issue. My family was on welfare. Ours was a five-kid, one-parent household. And I was a direct beneficiary of the programs where the city reinvested in at-risk youth programs.

When I was in 12th grade, I was hired to work at a courthouse, and I was paid through the Joint Training Partnership Act which aimed to keep at-risk youth off the streets. The courthouse positioned me in a job where I...

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