Saturday marked the first celebration of a new federal holiday, Juneteenth, as the official end of slavery. It would be powerful to use this holiday as a remembrance of past wrongs and add to it a hope for future rights, as in the idea of ending slavery and creating jobs through education. Many people do not know the history of this day but it is important to review the history of why this marks the end of slavery in the United States.
Order No. 3 enforces the freedom of enslaved people and that leads me to ask how much we have moved from Juneteenth to JulyJobs? How much have we enforced the freedom to help people get jobs? How much have we moved toward providing education and jobs to people who have previously been denied this basic access to success in our country?
This is the point. IF we don’t value education for everyone, then only those lucky enough to get a good education will benefit from the idea of taking learning and turning it into a living. If only a third of our students attain reading proficiency by third grade, they are more likely to fall behind in school and eventually drop out. And those children are in our poorest performing schools, in our most impoverished neighborhoods, waiting for us to figure out how to help them by structuring an education system that works for them.
Connecting the Arc of History
From Juneteenth to JulyJobs means that we might want to connect our education system with our job system, building a balance between general foundational skills like reading with more specific job skill sets gained through project learning, internships, apprenticeships, and shadowing future employment sites and workplaces. The best way to enforce freedom is to pay for it through better education.