Investing in Hope: The Ripple Effects of Public Education Investment

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, schools can be the heart of a community. The age of the school building, the condition and currency of the materials used, the access to technology…parents and students draw conclusions about how society values them from their school environment, and lack of investment in public education can have ripple effects beyond the campus. Conversely, when communities invest in future generations by supporting public education, this creates a greater sense of hope among students and has a corresponding positive influence on upward economic mobility among community residents.

A recent study showed the correlation between an investment in public education and high school dropout and teen pregnancy rates. The benefits of feeling supported are far reaching, and if a school fully supports students’ learning, that inspires students to value their education and make better decisions. Education is inspiring, and knowledge is empowering. When people feel hopeless, or that they shouldn’t bother trying, they make risky decisions because they may not envision a future that they want to work toward.

This influx of hope spreads beyond the school to the surrounding community and its inhabitants. “Upward economic mobility” is the main benefit of a quality public education in urban areas, according to the study, conducted in part by researchers from Penn State University’s Agriculture and Regional Economics department, in conjunction with the United States Department of Agriculture, as well as the National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The researchers used data from federal income tax records, the Historical Database on Individual Government Finances, the American Community Survey from 2006 to 2010, and local county business patterns.

Researchers undertook the study because inequality has returned to historically high levels. They found that urban upward mobility is impacted by a parents’ education, while non-urban upward mobility impacts generational migration opportunities. If a school has the money to function well, paying the teachers a good wage, funding new technology, and installing new collaborative spaces that accommodate students’ different learning styles, all students benefit and feel valued.

Policy makers and academics have turned their attention to the impact of inequality and we believe education marketers should, too. Marketers who want to connect with educators, and earn their trust as partners, need to appreciate the message that purchasing your product and services sends to students, teachers, and parents. As the “face” of investment in public education, your company’s offerings has the potential to do more than raise grades, you can also inspire hope.

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