Timely Interventions

From the Editor: About This Special Report

Next America explores challenges in educating a nation where racial and ethnic minorities soon will comprise a majority of the workforce. Poor and minority youths can often use a helping hand. The question is when.

A child's successful education starts in preschool -- or even before. 
National Journal
Burt Solomon
Dec. 3, 2013, 7:36 a.m.

Ours is a na­tion of out­siders, in­vig­or­ated by waves of people who be­gin with noth­ing and scrape their way to suc­cess. This has al­ways been the grand­est source of na­tion­al strength and — since the days of the Know Noth­ing Party — of polit­ic­al ire. The prob­lem now, as al­ways, is one of as­sim­il­a­tion: How can we bring dis­ad­vant­aged young Amer­ic­ans in­to the eco­nom­ic main­stream?

In this edi­tion of The Next Amer­ica, a spe­cial sup­ple­ment to Na­tion­al Journ­al, co­sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Found­a­tion and the Amer­ic­an Fed­er­a­tion of Teach­ers, we ex­plore the dif­fi­culties of pre­par­ing for an eco­nom­ic fu­ture in which ra­cial and eth­nic minor­it­ies will make up a ma­jor­ity of the work­force a scant quarter-cen­tury hence.

In re­port­ing the cov­er story, Jan­ell Ross traveled to San Ant­o­nio, a van­guard of the na­tion’s demo­graph­ic fu­ture. The Latino-dom­in­ated city is try­ing its damnd­est to help its young’uns suc­ceed as adults, start­ing be­fore they’re born and con­tinu­ing through to high school. The life cycle of young Amer­ic­ans who are dis­ad­vant­aged by poverty, race, or eth­ni­city of­fers mul­tiple op­por­tun­it­ies for someone to step in and change their lives. 

The prob­lem is this: In the real world, with the avail­able re­sources so con­strained, choices must be made. When is it most cost-ef­fect­ive to in­ter­vene? There’s an an­swer: Early is bet­ter.

One path that no longer as­sures a middle-class life is re­ly­ing on a high school dip­loma, and the edu­ca­tion­al sys­tem is re­spond­ing. Soph­ie Quin­ton looks at a high school in Geor­gia where vo­ca­tion­al edu­ca­tion has been re­defined. Wood shop has giv­en way to rig­or­ous courses — the lines between tra­di­tion­al aca­dem­ics and vo­ca­tion­al train­ing have blurred — that are meant to help any stu­dent find a place in a fright­en­ingly soph­ist­ic­ated work­force.

Life is hard: No news there. But Peter Bell and Stephanie Stamm show (in the cen­ter­spread graph­ic) how much harder it is if things go badly from birth. This pro­pels an in­equal­ity that our sys­tem of high­er edu­ca­tion is mak­ing worse, as Ron­ald Brown­stein finds. For gen­er­a­tions the driver of up­ward mo­bil­ity, col­lege has be­come a force for stul­ti­fic­a­tion. The chil­dren of the pros­per­ous re­ceive an elite edu­ca­tion and an easi­er life, while most oth­ers — uh, too bad.

So, is high­er edu­ca­tion the prob­lem or the cure? Click on the links at the box above right.

What We're Following See More »
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
1 days ago

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Trump Cancels Rallies
1 days ago

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
2 days ago

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

RNC’s Spicer to Work from Trump HQ
2 days ago

"Donald Trump's campaign and the Republican party will coordinate more closely going forward, with the GOP's top communicator and chief strategist Sean Spicer increasingly working out of Trump campaign headquarters, the campaign confirmed Sunday."

Manafort Resigns from Trump Campaign
5 days ago

In a statement released Friday morning, the Trump campaign announced that Paul Manafort has resigned as campaign chairman. The move comes after fresh questions had been raised about Manafort's work in Russia and Ukraine, and Trump brought in Stephen Bannon "as a de facto demotion for Manafort."