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I cannot say that this is the single issue that most concerns me because I have so many societal concerns, but I think the disparity in quality of education for poor and rich children is a massive problem in the land of opportunity. I have known many people in my home town who send their children to private school because the school is “better.” They determine the quality of the school by looking at test scores, which often reflect the income of the students’ families more than the quality of the education. Poor children in this country grow up with many less resources than I had as a child: I had a stay-at-home mother with a degree from UC Berkeley, hundreds of books, college-educated grandparents who lived within blocks of my house, and money for extracurricular activities. Thousands of children in this country have none of these advantages and there are very limited means to alleviate the disparity. I learned to read when I was three; by the time other kids got to school for the first time, when they were six, I had already been reading for three years. Children are cruel- when they see that one of their peers reads very well, that child is “smart”; another, who is struggling to catch up with their peers, is labeled “dumb.” Children naturally decide that they do not want to read because they feel that they are not good at it, when, in reality, they probably just need more practice. We do not invest enough resources in catching these children up, spending enough time with them to get them to be functionally literate by the time they leave elementary school, and I see the results every day in my English class- kids who cannot take advantage of the class because they can barely read the material. By the time they get to high school, it is nearly always too late to truly serve these kids. A teenager who truly wants to improve their reading skills can do it with proper motivation- but so many have already convinced themselves that they will have to do without good reading skills that they do not even think of trying to improve themselves. I want to join City Year to do something about this problem. I want to help kids who normally get left behind under our system. I can help with most subjects- math, chemistry, literature, history, music- but I really want to help instill a desire to learn in kids. I do not want kids to feel “dumb” because they have limited resources. I do not want to hear people say “I hate Shakespeare” because they do not have the skills to read his works. I want to help kids prepare to be informed, educated citizens with the learning skills to go to college, better their incomes and pass their knowledge on to their children. Because I believe that this is a problem that can be solved. I believe that with time and effort, every child really can have the same advantages as I had. I want to join City Year because I want to help make it happen.


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