Being concerned about education and making decisions about education and reform is not the sole responsibility of people working in education (teachers, administrators, unions) or parents of children who are currently in the education system. The public education system in the United States is everyone’s business. It is your business.

Research indicates long-term effects on communities in terms of costs to taxpayers and businesses when the education system isn’t working well—higher drop-out rates, higher poverty rates and incidence of generational poverty, lower wages and unskilled workforce, higher rates of teen pregnancy and increased access to public health services such as WIC and subsidized health care, more transiency and increased isolation, higher juvenile crime rates and court and jail costs.

For the average citizen living in a community with these problems, you are likely to feel unsafe and have reduced access to fresh foods, good jobs, community services and support networks of family and friends. For the business owner in this community, you are likely to have difficulty finding qualified workers and the staff you do hire are likely to be more transient and have many life stressors causing missed work days and lower job performance.

For the parent sending your child to school in this community, you are likely to see negative peer influences on your child, lowered self-esteem and belief in his or her ability to succeed and a reduced interest and enjoyment in school.

Teachers and administrators working in this community are likely to experience burnout early in their careers, feel frustrated and lose their passion for making a difference for children and youth and focus solely on surviving—both in terms of surviving the school day and year with students and district politics and surviving financially.

No matter who you are or what role you have in the community you live in, a broken education system impacts you and the people you care about. That is why you need to care about whether the system is working and how to transform it into a system that works for everyone.