02/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Droppin' Out: The Real American Crisis

There is a major crisis going on in America. If we do not avert this crisis we may see the destruction of America as we know it. We will no longer be able to compete with other countries, thousands more people will be unemployed, our cities will become centers for poverty, violence and drug addiction.

No, this crisis is not our financial crisis or the collapse of of the auto industry. This crisis is way more severe than either of those. The crisis is the collapse of the urban educational system, a crisis has been swept under the rug by the American media and government for years.

The urban education crisis is hardly a new one. For years the American government has neglected the educational needs of the poor African Americans and Latinos who occupy many of our city centers.

It is no coincidence that the cities with the highest drop out rates also have the highest crime rates and highest murder rates. Students who are unable to obtain quality educations find opportunities in the world of drugs and crime. The cycle continues from one generation to another, in poor neighborhoods with poor schools plagued by crime and no opportunity -- giving birth to another generation with the same problem.

Bailing out the urban educational system is not just a money problem. For too many years Americans have fought against things: communism, drugs, poverty. Isn't it time to fight for something? If Americans are to solve this problem, first we must realize what a major problem it is and realize that the future of our country is at stake. As with most problems, the solution must come from hard work and innovation as well as funding.

By bailing out the urban education system we would not only reduce the crime rate, relieve our overcrowded jails, and provide jobs for inner cities, we will also be breaking the cycle that keeps poor people of color in the same neighborhoods, repeating the same cycles of violence, drugs and poverty.

We have seen the heights a person of color can reach when given the proper education and opportunities in Barack Obama. How many future leaders, innovators, artists and businessman turn to crime or despair because of a lack of educational opportunities.

As someone who has worked in the some of the worst schools in Boston and the South Bronx, I've seen the overcrowded classrooms, the over-stressed, unprepared teachers, the metal detectors at the door, the gangs and lack of art and athletic programs to keep students interested in school. However I've also seen the desire to learn, the thirst for knowledge and the belief in the USA as a beacon of opportunity.

In Baltimore last year, students went on a hunger strike to protest the cuts in after school programs. John McCain said one thing that I agreed with during the campaign: that education is the civil rights issue of the 21st century. While de jure segregation has been gone for more then 50 years from our public school system, the system is still inherently separate and unequal.

The few blacks and latinos lucky enough to live in neighborhoods with decent school systems have a fair chance at the American dream, the masses who are trapped in inner cities with few routes out. Because property taxes fund school systems, rich neighborhoods get lots of money to fund their schools while poor neighborhoods are forced to suffer, creating a class and race based form of de facto segregation.

Bailing out the urban education system will take more than money. It will take people willing to sacrifice and believe in the future of this country. If Obama can inspire people to work for him to get elected hopefully he will be able to inspire people to follow his lead and work as community organizers in urban neighborhoods.

Here are some of the national high school drop out rates according to The Wall Street Journal:

Baltimore: 65% of all students drop out

Chicago: 45% of all students drop out

Columbus: 60% of all students drop out

Detroit: 75% of all students drop out

Los Angeles: 43% of all students drop out

New York: 53% of all students drop out

Here's a Music Video I Did With Some of My Former Students in the South Bronx About the Drop Out Crisis:

The Movement: Droppin Out