Monday, September 19, 2016

Education: Our Most Powerful Tool of Change

Education is the most powerful tool of change that we have at our disposal. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, in his essay, “The Purpose of Education,” that “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically, intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only the power of concentration but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

This is as true today as when he said it over 65 years ago. Because what society exists without the ultimate goal being to enrich its members? What community system is there, regardless of type or size—that does not strive to educate all of its members in some form or the other, regardless of age, gender, or race?

With our rapidly evolving and diverse community here in Plainfield, we need to ask ourselves how these changing demographics affect the way we educate our children. How do we ensure that each child regardless of ethnicity or place of origin receives the same quality education and the same opportunities? How do we educate each one for success?

Studies have shown that minorities benefit greatly from high-quality preschool education. Not all children are equally ready to learn when they enter kindergarten. For those who start out behind (and that often includes low-income and minority children), it can be difficult to catch up. In response, many states have initiated prekindergarten programs to promote school readiness and close achievement gaps.

To this end, my administration is actively seeking means to fund a program we call Plainfield Promise. One of the goals of Plainfield Promise is to open an account of $500 for every single preschooler here in Plainfield. The aim is to help them learn financial literacy, as well as critical money management skills, which will be invaluable to them later in life. This will encourage them to save and provide for their own financial future. We want to set them on a steady path to continued education and provide incentives for them to crave learning. There is a much stronger chance of creating lifelong learners when they learn to enjoy it while still young.

I believe that an investment in the education of our youth is a direct investment into the future of our City. To this end, Plainfield Promise also has as an objective the tertiary education of every single Plainfield High School graduate who qualifies for college but who lacks the financial means. We will pay for them to attend Union County College, because no child should be denied an education because of economic challenges.
Plainfield, these measures are by no means a solution or comprehensive strategy, but it represents a vision for our community, which includes education, learning, growing and building... by investing in the most precious commodity we have.

If we are to grow and succeed, we must anticipate and plan ahead. We must educate for growth, we must educate for learning, we must educate for survival, and we must educate for success.


Mayor Adrian O. Mapp
City of Plainfield

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