The Good Economist May 2016 - Page 2

From the SBN Policy Desk:

The Education Crisis Is the Business Crisis

Philadelphia’s education crisis is a business crisis. The quality of the labor force is the biggest challenge confronting businesses in the region. If Philadelphia is unable to cultivate a local talent pipeline, businesses will face tremendous difficulty finding the workers they need to compete in a globally and technologically powered economy. If the Philadelphia workforce is unable to meet the skills demand, the region will be unable to attract and retain business. Education is more critical than ever.

Yet, despite having over 100 colleges and universities, Philadelphia has significant disparities in educational attainment. Achievement gaps between affluent and less privileged children are wider than ever. A 2015 study, commissioned by Temple University’s Center on Regional Politics, found that school systems with lower concentrations of economically disadvantaged students outperform those with higher ones.

The subsequent challenges in accessing higher education confines economic opportunity and perpetuates intergenerational poverty. College has become a precondition for economic mobility. The earnings gap between those workers with bachelor’s degree and those without is becoming increasingly wider. The median weekly earnings of workers with a bachelor’s degree ($1,137) is more than 1.5 times that of workers with a high school diploma ($678).

However, the problem of education inequity begins much earlier than the collegiate level.The gap between high-income and low-income children is large starting the day they enter kindergarten, growing only slightly afterwards. Children in the highest socioeconomic groups have higher mean test scores than scores of their peers in the lowest socioeconomic group.

Access to high-quality early childhood education reduces educational and economic inequality.

low-income families.