Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Dollars and Sense of a Basic Education :: Huffington Post

The Dollars and Sense of a Basic Education
Huffington Post: 3.25.2015 by Ralph da Costa Nunez, PhD

Half of all homeless parents in New York City shelters don't have a high school diploma. In essence, this means they can't read or write at a level required to get a decent job, permanently sentencing them to low-wage, dead-end jobs or, as is the case for many, no employment prospects at all.

Despite policy declarations and expectations, how can we expect a homeless mother to move on from shelter to a home of her own without a job that pays a decent wage? In truth, shelters have become places where family economic and social instability festers if opportunities are not made available. Today, when average length of stay is over a year and over half the families who leave shelter return, would it not make sense to address the gap in a parent's education while they wait for a viable housing option to become available?

Irrespective of the competitive angling between the General Educational Development Test (GED) and New York's newly introduced Test Assessing Secondary Completion (TASC), it's clear that completing a high school equivalency degree makes sense for both homeless parents and the taxpayer. Studies of family literacy programs demonstrate that every dollar invested in adult literacy yields over $7 in higher incomes, tax contributions, reduced criminal justice expenses, and diminished reliance on public assistance. Those without a basic education are essentially relegated to being a permanent underclass -- which is both an expensive prospect for the city and a stain on our conscience. An individual who doesn't complete high school costs the city nearly $134,000, ironically for expenses like jail and shelter. On the other hand, those with a high school diploma or equivalency degree earn 65 percent more over a lifetime, providing a $193,000 benefit to the city. Education does pay, and can be the difference between residing in shelter or your own home.  READ MORE !

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