Today, the Opportunity Nation campaign focused on measuring opportunity. As we know, The American Dream remains unfulfilled for a large population of US citizens, but such an ideal can be difficult to quantify. Thankfully, we now have a useful metric called the Opportunity Index; this tool can help assess where opportunities are lacking in the areas of education, economy, and community, which helps engaged citizens determine how to best tackle the opportunity gap.***
While we often here the mantra: “a child’s zip code should not determine his or her destiny,” I wanted to point out that opportunities within a given zip code can vary widely. Boston, one of America’s oldest and largest cities, is a diverse metropolis of many neighborhoods, but it scores well on measures of opportunity, as does the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. However, it’s worth noting that disparities exist within the zip codes of Suffolk County. In fact, such disparities have recently gotten major press regarding the busing strategy of the Boston Public Schools. I won’t inject my own opinion in the debate for now, since I’m still in the process of learning the ins-and-outs of BPS. I do find the history fascinating albeit disheartening given how much I love Boston.
Ideally, a child would be able to attend a high quality school located near his or her home from pre-k to grade 12. Between the price of gas and the frustration of driving through Boston when the buses are en route, the costs of transportation are huge! That said, busing is still the reality given that children can’t readily attain an excellent education at their given neighborhood school, for various reasons. Bostonians have a lot of pride in their education system, but until the day we can truly provide opportunity for all, it is best we work together to find a suitable solution in the meantime.
What do you think can be done?
***Does the county or state you live in constrain your opportunity? Or are there lots of community assets that increase opportunity? Visit http://www.opportunityindex.org, learn your score, share it, and take action to improve it.
Anthony Britt is a City Year Boston Program Manager. This post represents his own perspective and not necessarily those of City Year or AmeriCorps.