The issue of education is on our mind as students of all ages settle back into school this month. Our Quote of the Week highlights the importance of education while acknowledging some of the most basic and serious challenges that our underfunded public schools face.
Sargent Shriver's career in public service began in education. While living in Chicago in the 1950s, he served as the president of the Chicago Board of Education. He threw himself into this role with great passion, addressing the myriad of issues that Chicago public schools dealt with in the 1950s, from funding shortages to segregation. Our Quote of the Week is from a speech he gave during those years, the Speech at Kenwood and Murray Schools PTA.
Sargent Shriver's career shifted away from education when he went to work for John F. Kennedy, working first on his presidential campaign and then on the creation of the Peace Corps. However, whenever relevant, he continued to stress the notion that a solid education for all citizens was both a country's greatest asset as well as a fundamental human right. It's no coincidence, for example, that the programs of the War on Poverty included a very visible (and very successful) early childhood education program, Head Start.
It is sobering to think that Sargent Shriver spoke these words over 64 years ago. In 2019, our public schools are still struggling for resources, and too many young people either struggle with student debt, or they simply don't have access to proper educational resources. To be sure, many local leaders throughout the country have made efforts to improve the accessibility, quality, and affordability of education at all levels, but to truly expand opportunity for all of us, the issue of education must become a higher priority nationwide. As we all continue the process of becoming more engaged citizens, let us follow the lead of those like Sargent Shriver. Let us be vocal about the importance of education and let us support leaders who also place a high priority on it.