Look, the name "PoorerThanYou.com" – that’s tongue-in-cheek. I’m well aware that, simply by being an American, I’m in the top 15% of the world’s wealthiest. Poor as I am, I’m actually rich. And if you’re reading this, you’re probably rich as well. Don’t believe me? Check out just how rich you are.
But I already know how rich I am, because of the quality of the education I’ve received. I’m not even talking about the fancy college education that I’ve gotten into way too much debt for – although that certainly could be used as an indicator.
Rather, I can tell my relative wealth simply by looking at my elementary and high schools. Textbooks, teachers, computers, music classes, science classes, drama club… all courtesy of the New York State public school system.
Most of the nearly two–billion children in the developing world are inadequately educated, or receive no education at all. One in three does not complete the fifth grade.
–One Laptop Per Child, www.laptop.org
Is poverty a cause of poor education, or is poor education a cause of poverty? As best I can tell, the answer is: Yes. Both. It’s a vicious cycle. Poor schooling means little economic opportunity, and struggling economies can’t afford to build schools.
Many of you already know that I lead a group on my college campus called Students for Cambodian Schools. I haven’t been able to donate much money to the cause, thanks to my debt and all that. But debt – being "poor" in America – is no excuse for ignoring the real plight of others. Just because I can’t give money doesn’t mean I don’t have something to give.
Call this what you want: bleeding heart liberalism, white guilt, "#62 Knowing what’s best for poor people" … it is what it is. I implore you today, on Blog Action Day, to take a look at people that truly are Poorer Than You. And think what one hour of your time or one bill out of your wallet might mean to someone living in poverty.
The floodgate – I mean, the comments section – is open.