Reconnecting Young People To Opportunity

We all pretty much understand that the sub-generation of kids coming out of secondary schools right now have an unusually tough row to hoe given a combination of poor job opportunities and escalating post-secondary education costs. And as Richard Florida demonstrated in the November-Demember issue of the Washington Monthly, some places–especially in the supposedly robust economic environment of the sunbelt–are particularly difficult for young people seeking opportunity.

But the same issue of the magazine has two articles pointing to solutions. Dorian Friedman offers five case studies of local and national efforts aimed at connecting (or in some cases, reconnecting) young people to relevant post-secondary education and to careers that have shown great promise. And Mark Edwards of Opportunity Nation looks at how the federal government can play a role in restoring opportunity through both old (a Perkins Act reauthorization) and new (a strategy for encouraging savings by low-income youth) means.

There’s a tendency to count on macroeconomic forces to keep this from being a “lost generation” of Americans. Obviously, restoring economic growth would help enormously, but there’s a lot more we can do at every level of government to keep hope alive.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.