Businessweek has a special section this week on the working poor. According to the graphs they provide, low income is heavily correlated with the lack of a college education.
Add to all this the fact that a college degree, the time-tested passport to success, is today less available to those without family resources. The cost of college has exploded, leaving fewer than 5% of students from bottom-earning families able to get that all-important diploma. The result: The pattern of low skills crosses the generations. Columbus Harris, 50, a $6.75-an-hour driver for the elderly in Pine Bluff, Ark., couldn't help his kids with college. So his middle son Christopher joined the Army to get an education. "I worry about the fact that a lot of the gains in educational attainment are concentrated among the youngsters from rich and upper-middle-class families," says Gary Burtless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
We seem to look to politics to fix poverty, outsourcing, and other similar problems. But the answer to all of these is a better educational system and more opportunities for advanced education.