As the global economy increasingly values skilled work, a high school diploma no longer guarantees economic security.8 Keeping the American Dream alive for the next generation therefore demands dramatically increasing the number of young people who reach a post-secondary credential. Doing so requires robust education funding and increased opportunities for millions of disconnected youth who are neither in school nor working.
In 2012, total federal spending on education was $67.6 billion, while we spent $109 billion on the war in Afghanistan.
However, the US is failing to rise to the challenge of this new economy. In this report, Young Invincibles and National Priorities Project analyze three key investments related to economic opportunity: 1) education; 2) training and employment services; and 3) national service. In each area, the federal government’s current investments already fall far short of where they need to be. In many cases we have instead cut funding for education, training, or work experience, when we need to move in the opposite direction. Many argue that we must reduce the deﬁcit now to ensure a brighter economic future. But doing so through reckless cuts to education and training programs will threaten the American Dream.
8 Tamara Draut et al., The State of Young America, (Washington, DC: DEMOS and Young Invincibles, 2011), 11-12, http://www.demos.org/sites/default/files/publications/SOYA_TheDatabook_2.pdf.