In a recent speech at Brown University, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) made his case for a constitutional amendment that would guarantee quality public education and health care for every United States citizen.
He said a lack of quality public education and health care is a nationwide problem: “Poor white Appalachians need a public education of equal, high quality. African-Americans in the urban cities and the ghettos of our nation need a public education of equal, high quality. The Hispanics in the barrios of our nation need a public education of equal, high quality.”
After being pressed on the cost of his amendment by reporters during a question-and-answer session, Jackson provided no specific dollar amounts, saying such costs are difficult to determine. However, he said the country always seems to find the money to fund something it considers a priority, citing the nation’s response to the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, but he also looked at the cost of not having a public education:
When you the question of cost, there is another question that, I think, precedes that one: ‘What are the costs of not having a high-quality public education?’ We are paying for it in lack of productivity. We are paying for it in terms of the prison population. We are paying for it in terms of not guaranteeing every American a true equal opportunity.
Jackson’s amendment would guarantee minimum standards for public education-not take resources from one community and give them to another. While the Supreme Court would ultimately determine what constitutes a “high-quality” education, Jackson says that every student should have access to computers, well-trained teachers, and small class sizes.