On Friday night, I got together with some of my aunts and uncles on my dad's side of the family. I got to see my parents, and even my uncle Terry and aunt Mary, who I don't see too often. Well, my sweet aunt Mary told us this quote that her very conservative, very Catholic mother used to say, "If you have the money, someone will blow sugar up your ass." This got us all laughing, and became a new favorite quote. But it really got me thinking about how important money is in this society, and made me question how important having money is to me. I certainly wouldn't blow sugar up anybody's ass, but it would be nice to have a feeling of security throughout my life.
I was very blessed growing up. And I consider myself among the privileged. This is not to say that I think I am better than anyone else, but I know that I have had an easier life than many people. I grew up as a white, middle class, Christian in the United States. Not to mention, I went to a private school most of my life, and then had the opportunity to attend college. As I am getting ready to graduate and face the real world, I am starting to worry. Will I be able to support myself? Will I be able to support a family? How much money do I need to do the things that I want to do in life? These are questions that I have not thought much about. I have always been a firm believer that your quality of life should not be based on your income. I still believe this, but I can realize the difficulties that arise with income, and can easily take over.
Many of these questions are coming up now because of my place in life, and I think that I would be more worried if I wasn't thinking about these things. But these personal fears that I feel are nothing compared to what millions of people experience everyday of their lives. Poverty is a serious issue right here in our own state. We may not notice it, because, in very Minnesotan fashion, we see the good things of the state that we live in. While this is an important thing to see, we cannot ignore the problems. Sure, Minnesota may have a very high graduation rate, and be one of the nations leading states in education, but we also have one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation as well. This means that there is a significant difference in the number of white students graduating and the number of black students graduating in high schools across our state. Our suburb schools are great because they have the funding, and our inner city schools are not as great. The amount of funding allotted to a school depends on factor of income in a specific area. For example, if in a specific school zone there are a large number of foreclosed houses, then that school will not receive the same amount of funding as a school in a rich suburb where the houses are occupied and also cost ten times as much. This is why Mounds View high school is one of the best in the cities and the opposite can be said of some Minneapolis schools...
This is something that only we can change. Get rid of the no child left behind act, and create a program that is actually beneficial to all students, not just specific groups of students. More teachers with higher pay, books and technology available for all schools, and more charter schools with non-traditional teaching methods for students who need it. People don't realize it, but we are creating a large gap between high and low income families starting at a young age.