What You Don’t Know About The Working Class and Education: Teaching to The Test, Quality And Education Among Top Concerns

education

At Working America, we’re shedding light on the real issues that working class people care about. Every week we talk to new members about a particular topic that affects them and their communities.

For a few weeks, we surveyed more than 700 members on the topic of education. Below are some surprising, and not so surprising facts about how working class Americans view education.

  • 71% said that quality and cost are the most important factors in education. Unfortunately, due in part to widening income inequality, many members noted that class determines the type of education a student receives.

“Equal quality of education for all students in the U.S. is important. Where you live determines the kind of education you’ll get.” Colleen, Greensboro, N.C.

  • 84% had children in public school. As a result, funding public school programs and supporting teachers were top priorities for many of them. Notably, members were not in favor of teaching to the test, and the merits of such methods were questioned.

“My biggest concern is that teachers in North Carolina should be treated professionally,” said Lynne , a Working America member from Greensboro N.C. “The laws here disarm teachers and I don’t agree with it.”

  • The relationship between a college degree and solid work is still complicated. 86% of members indicated that they did not have a child in college, as a result, perhaps, many respondents indicated that they’d like to see job training and real-life curriculum integrated into schools. This comes on the heels of several reports noting that a college degree is becoming more and more necessary in today’s world.

“I believe everyone should be able to get a good education because it’s so necessary now days to a good future,’ said Linda from Chicago, Ill. “It’s not like it was 30 or 40 years ago when you could make a living without one, now you really need it.”

Working America has spent a good part of 2014 fighting to keep the specific needs of the working class at the forefront of the debate on education.

In Houston we helped save four public schools from closing, and in Pennsylvania we’re petitioning Governor Corbett to strengthen state funding for public education.

Photo courtesy of AFL-CIO NOW.

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Earning trust the old-fashion way

Greg Lyons—Ohio

In Lima I spoke with an elderly woman who was reluctant to join because she was distrustful of people coming to her door. I could see she wasn’t comfortable so I politely thanked her and went on my way.

Later that night I was on her street doing call backs, she saw me, called me over and became a member. She said of I were that committed I must be working on something important. I know that being polite earlier in the night had impressed her and gave me the opportunity to later sign her up as a member.

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He totally gets it !!!!

by Ebony Taylor—Pennsylvania

We were in Shaler, PA and he was my first contact of the evening. I started out telling him my name and when I told him that I was from Working America a really big smile came across his face. He said that he received phone calls from Working America that informed him about Melissa Hart’s voting record. He also talked about voting for her in the past, and not knowing that she was not for issues that concern working people. He said, “we kicked her butt, I loved it and I love Working America!” He was just as excited about renewing his membership, which he displayed by quickly pulling out the money from his pocket and informing me that he did not need a receipt. I think he said “I love Working America” three times before our conversation ended.

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Three Dues Paying Members in One Second

by Jon Caldwell—Ohio

Yesterday in Mt. Healthy I walked up to three people talking by their cars. I told them about Ohio’s job loss, and they could relate. They all signed up as members and signed EFCA postcards. When it came for dues they all said they wished they could but they had no money on them at that time. I thanked them for their support and made my way back to the rest of my call-backs. After 5-7 minutes one of the guys drove to find me with a dues payment for him and both of his friends.

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Signing up the whole family

by Octavio Armendariz—Ohio

I was canvassing in the area of Lakewood. I had been having a rough night because I kept running into very negative people. However I went up to a door and knocked, and this really nice lady answered the door. I gave her my rap and she seemed very interested. What amazed me most was her three kids who all signed the band-aid petition. But what really got me was their involvement. As I asked what issues mattered most to them, her daughter–who must have only been thirteen if that–started to comment on how important good jobs were. The other two younger kids also gave their input on the economy and health care. I thought to myself: “Maybe there is hope for the younger generation!”

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Health care nightmare

by Michael Dice—Colorado

While canvassing, I signed up a new member for Working America who is passionate about health care reform in this country. She was diagnosed several years ago with a serious autoimmune disease. She was forced to take medical retirement from a good job in California and to move to Colorado to be near family members to assist her with her physical needs. Her latest hospital bill was $95,000 dollars and she may have to file bankruptcy as a result. She had a very compelling story and wants to help out!

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Outsourced after 9-11

by Kara Kukovich—Pennsylvania

I was canvassing in Alburtis, PA when a woman answered the door. I had been to her house earlier and met her son. I told her we were fighting job outsourcing. She said, “I know. My husband was one of them.” She told me how her husband was working and that shortly after 9-11-2001, he lost his job because of outsourcing. “Wow. That must have been a hard time for your family,” I said. “Yeah, she replied, it was.”

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The “nursing home”

by Arthur Benson—Pennsylvania

I came to the door of a soon-to-be-member and met an elderly couple. They were bedding in a cluttered living room with most necessities at arm’s length. The husband informed me that they were ineligible for any form of government assistance due to bureaucratic red-tape. He was in good humor and described their situation as their “nursing home.” He confided in me his concern for their welfare and being unable to provide transportation for his wife’s doctor’s appointments. He is afraid he might fall while assisting her to his car.

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A very committed member

by Jay Rosen—Pennsylvania

Today I had the distinct pleasure of meeting a wonderful couple. He works in construction and his wife is a hair-stylist. Their passion for our cause is so profound and we talked for at least 10 minutes. They are struggling as many people that I have come across in this line of work. They asked me to sit with them, gave me some bottled water and paid their dues as well. It was a fruitful endeavor as I also signed up three other people that were visiting them. Meeting people like these helped make our mission worthwhile and meaningful.

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Paying her dues

by Sheldon Vaughn—Colorado

Yesterday while canvassing, I met a woman outside her home who was nothing short of amazing. I approached her and gave my intro and she immediately was hooked on the idea of Working America. While giving answers to question after question as she filled out my clipboard, the subject of the voluntary dues finally came up. She said she had no cash on her, however she was headed to the grocery store. She then told me if I met her in twenty minutes she would give me five dollars. I skeptically agreed and canvassed for twenty minutes and met her in the exact same spot and she gladly handed me a five dollar bill.

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