What kind of future is this society offering to young people today? From work to higher education, it seems like all the doors are being slammed shut. Pathways that are supposed to help you get ahead end up being dead ends. Try to get a job? You end up competing with millions of other people for the same terrible jobs. Try to get an education? You end up in debt with no guarantee of a better job.
The lack of opportunities starts early. Today in the U.S., 21 percent of children live in conditions of poverty, a four percent increase over the last eight years. One in five children live in homes without enough to eat. Over three percent of children are homeless, about 2.5 million children per year. Even before their first day of school, children are being limited by what their parents can afford and the struggles their families are going through.
Schools today are being degraded by lack of funding. On average, states are spending 20 percent less per student than they did in 2008. Students are being packed like sardines into overcrowded classrooms. Today elementary school teachers have to manage classrooms of nearly 30 students. High schools can see class sizes as high as 50 students.
Many students leave school without graduating. On average, one out of ten students drops out before finishing high school. But in many schools the rate is much higher. In Oakland, the drop out rate for students is 37 percent.
For those who find a way to college, debt is waiting for them due to skyrocketing tuition. The cost of going to college has increased by twelve times in the last 30 years. Today more than two thirds of U.S. students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree have $28,400 of debt, and the total debt of college graduates is over one trillion dollars!
What prospects does a young person have, even with a college degree? Today youth unemployment is double that of adults, with 23 million people under the age of 24 unemployed. Young college graduates are unemployed at a rate of 7.2 percent, and those with only a high school diploma are unemployed at a rate of 19.5 percent. This hides the fact that nearly 20 percent of college graduates and 40 percent of those with only a high school diploma are underemployed, working less than full time at low wage jobs.
Even without so much stacked against young people, the future is still threatened by the threat of climate change. According to a 2014 survey of climate scientists, climate change will result in a massive reduction in global food production, accompanied by catastrophic weather events.
It all comes down to the bottom line. Young people are denied an education because the rich don’t need them to work jobs to make them money. And on top of this, they face a future of an environment wrecked by capitalism.
But why should we tolerate a world run for the rich? The majority of society who do the work should have the right to decide our own priorities. Young people deserve a society in which they can thrive, one that guarantees them a meaningful life with unlimited access to resources, education and more, – they deserve a future worth fighting for.