For those who claim that improving education and sending more kids to college will solve the country’s economic problems, Vox offers “Why more education won’t end poverty, in one chart”.
The chart is interesting enough, illustrating how “we have massively improved the educational credentials of people living below the poverty line” over the past 25 years while the overall poverty rate has increased.
The writer’s closing, however, better addresses the complex relationship between poverty and education.
People face various kinds of barriers – the macroeconomic situation, economic conditions in the town where they live, certain kinds of disability, family responsibilities, substance abuse problems, etc. – that make it hard for them to get a full-time job.
To reduce poverty, you either need to address those barriers or you need to just hand over some money. More schooling has certain kinds of real benefits to society, but it hasn’t moved the needle on poverty historically, and there’s no reason to think it will in the future.
Jefferson’s sentiment that “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” is certainly true.1 But it’s not the only “vital requisite” for American society.