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.
A Preschool Where Kids Get a Leg Up
Successful Curiosity Corner preschool curriculum drives results and confidence — so much that ESL kids use “deciduous” in a sentence.
Best Time(s) to Help a Kid Succeed
A timely intervention can help a disadvantaged youngster find economic success as an adult. Stepping in early, scholars say, is cheaper and more effective.
Here’s a GED You Can Ride Into NYU
LaGuardia Community College is a GED machine, savvy to reaching out to high-school dropouts who are thirsty for practical and professional grant-funded classes.
In the Womb, Assuring a Future
Even before there’s a child to educate, nurses in a Texas program visit low-income, first-time mothers during their pregnancy, helping them become “super-great moms” and giving their kids a very early edge in school.
College Used to Be a Path to Success. Now It Divides Us.
Today’s educational system does more to stratify than to dissolve economic advantage.
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"According to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, the first national post-debate survey, 43 percent of registered voters said the Democratic candidate won, compared with 26 percent who opted for the Republican Party’s standard bearer. Her 6-point lead over Trump among likely voters is unchanged from our previous survey: Clinton still leads Trump 42 percent to 36 percent in the race for the White House, with Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson taking 9 percent of the vote."
After a lighthearted beginning, Donald Trump's appearance at the Al Smith charity dinner in New York "took a tough turn as the crowd repeatedly booed the GOP nominee for his sharp-edged jokes about his rival Hillary Clinton."
Evan McMullin came out on top in a Emerson College poll of Utah with 31% of the vote. Donald Trump came in second with 27%, while Hillary Clinton took third with 24%. Gary Johnson received 5% of the vote in the survey.
A new Quinnipiac University poll finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump by seven percentage points, 47%-40%. Trump’s “lead among men and white voters all but” vanished from the university’s early October poll. A new PPRI/Brookings survey shows a much bigger lead, with Clinton up 51%-36%. And an IBD/TIPP poll leans the other way, showing a virtual dead heat, with Trump taking 41% of the vote to Clinton’s 40% in a four-way matchup.