Dear Future President,
Hello, my name is Grace Shi, and I currently live in the town of Westport, Connecticut. Before that, I spent the majority of my life moving around New Jersey, and way way back, I lived in Pennsylvania. I am passionate about improved education for the impoverished because I believe that every child deserves a decent school experience that will set them up for a bright future, regardless of their economic backgrounds. Based off of personal experience and the staggering, unacceptable gaps between funding in different school districts, I believe that this does not provide each child with equal opportunities.
Today, I live in an affluent town, where it is typical to drink seven dollar smoothies and wear designer clothing. At this point, I think I take some of this for granted. I lived my early life off of food stamps. My parents, who are Chinese immigrants, came to America with little money, scholarships, and knowing little English. I grew up pretty poor, and being frugal was second nature. In fact, I can vividly remember Sunday afternoons sitting in the kitchen cutting coupons to buy bread at the local grocery store. My family has come a long way since then.
My Mom and Dad have inspired me to work hard, which is a huge American ideal. Coming from rural towns in Hubei Province, China, my parents grew up in environments unbeknownst to me. My parents used to tell me stories about how chickens lived under their beds, and their summers swimming in the river. I never believed them, until they actually took me for a visit one Summer.
My Mom and Dad may have been poor growing up, but they had a passion for learning that could not be halted. My Dad walked 10 kilometers everyday to school on the side of a dirt road. Eventually, his knowledge surpassed those his age, and he managed to earn a scholarship to a high school in the neighboring town that was far larger. Now, my Dad had to change his commute, and walked 15 kilometers miles everyday to school, and knew he hit the 7 kilometer point when he saw a large tree protruding from the mountains. My mom, told me stories of how she biked 6 kilometers to school everyday, and marveled at the rare sight of a car. Both of my grandparents from both sides had not received an education past middle school, and could provide little for them. Eventually, my parents ended up going to Qinhua university in Beijing, one of the most prestigious colleges in China, on full scholarship. Their parents had not paid one cent for their education, and later, they earned scholarships to Wharton Business School in Pennsylvania. I know you, Mr. Trump, had also attended Wharton, but you did not have to travel halfway across the world on nothing but scholarship money, to a foreign country with a different language. I also believe that you believe education is very important, imagining that you must owe the success of your business to what you learned in business school. And Mrs. Clinton, knowing that you were very bright and intelligent, having attended Yale, I imagine you value education, too. My parents continuously inspire me, because they came from small rural villages in China, and through hard work, they made it to America.
Hearing about the stories of my parents makes me feel inspired, and unbelievably grateful for what I have. However, times have changed since 1970’s China, and with modern day educational systems, it can be hard to overcome obstacles in education. Nowadays, I feel like there isn’t enough opportunity for our youths, and the difference in funding for schools is staggering. I live around twenty minutes away from Bridgeport, Connecticut, which has schools that are the polar opposite of those in Westport. Westport public schools operated on a $111.47 million dollar budget plan for the 2015-2016 school year whereas Bridgeport, “ is anticipating a fourth year of the same $215.8 million operating budget”(CT POST). It should also be noted that 4,062 high school students (3 high schools) alone are enrolled in the Bridgeport School District, according to the US. News. In Westport, there are only 1,834 students enrolled(1 High School). Harding High School(Bridgeport High School) also has a 70% graduation rate, whereas Staples High School has a graduation rate of 99%. 100% of the students enrolled in the Bridgeport School District are economically disadvantaged, whereas only 4% of Westport is. In Westport, 97% of the students are proficient in math, while only 33% of Bridgeport students are, which is due to the unacceptable differences in fundings. It is ridiculous that Westport is funds its schools incredibly well, with flat screen tv’s used just for displaying the “daily hot meal” in the cafeteria of our high school, while Bridgeport on the other hand, is having trouble funding their special education program. The near 30% difference in graduation rate supports that overall, Bridgeport students are not getting the proper funding, and educational opportunities that students in Westport do. I believe that if Bridgeport had proper funding, we can close the gap between math proficiency, which is more than 60%. I do not believe that where you grow up and go to school should be a factor in what you can achieve when you grow up, which is what my parents worked so hard to prove. I hope that you, future president, can work on closing the gap between dramatic educational opportunities between school districts. Now I know that this is only a local example, but having moved around a lot, I have gone to schools with very different fundings. My old high school in Edison, New Jersey did not offer nearly as many AP’s at Staples High School and did not have the fortunate blessing of air conditioning. I believe that there are a multitude of students across the nation who who aspire to be something great, just as my parents had, but have a harder time because of where they live.
Being a sophomore at Staples High school, I feel like my opportunities are limitless. Somedays, I want to be a doctor, and the next day I want to be a food critic. I feel like I am so lucky and fortunate enough to live in a school district that funds for more AP’s than I can take and of course, culinary classes. I believe that every kid across the nation should feel the same way, and should never feel like they can’t be a doctor or food critic because their school does not provide them with the building blocks for their dream careers. If we close the gap and provide improved education for the impoverished, we are essentially investing in a brighter future filled with more intellectuals who can contribute to the human race.