Last week I read a statistic in the Ney York Post that blew mind. As soon as I heard it, I knew I had to opine on the subject.  Believe it or not 36% of New York City public school students are chronically absent from class which means they are absent at least 10% of the time. If that statistic weren’t bad enough, the number jumps to 56% of all 12th graders. Chronic absenteeism in NYC public schools hits alarming 40% (

Data like this helps to explain the growing divide between rich and poor in the United States.  The acquisition of knowledge, in my opinion, is the key to being successful in America. By knowledge, I do not necessarily mean degrees. If you learn a skill that others do not have or is in demand you will always have a way to earn a good living. If you don’t, life will be difficult.

Unfortunately, if we look at those struggling financially in the US, the vast majority likely do not possess the knowledge or the skills to compete in our modern job market. That’s why I don’t think it should be any surprise that if we look deeper at the racial subgroups of this study there is a direct correlation between groups with higher absenteeism also having higher poverty levels.

I’m not going to get into the chicken and egg argument about whether the absenteeism creates the poverty, or the poverty causes the absenteeism. Either way, study after study shows that that the more someone is educated the less likely they will live in poverty.

In fact, according to education advocates, The Learning Agency, students with above average math skills make on average $21,000 more per year, and those with stronger reading and writing skills make $11,000 more annually. Having a high school diploma alone results in an individual making $7,000 more than those without.

Education is clearly the path to financial success. However, I will again stress this does not necessarily mean college degrees are the key. While it is true, on average, college graduates make more annually than those without degrees, what your degree is in matters. It also matters what alternative education non-college graduates have.

A 2020 study by Housecall Pros found that the return on investment for trade schools is actually 6x greater than what you receive from college. The study also shows that those who learn a trade have greater lifetime savings, and wealth at retirement than those who do not.

For many, dropping everything to go back to school is not an option. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to become more marketable by learning new skills. With the abundance of learning opportunities online there is simply no excuse for not obtaining knowledge and improving your income.

Want a new IT career in coding? Visit to get started at no charge. Would learning a foreign language open up new employment opportunities? Just go to where they have free online classes to learn one of 23 different languages. You can even enroll in non-credited college classes from some of the most prestigious public and private universities in the world on almost any subject imaginable all for free at

This is what pains me about seeing so many people in our country struggling financially. In America, we are given the ability to acquire knowledge and skills people in other parts of the world only dream of. Yet, too many choose to not take advantage of these opportunities, and instead blame the system for their lack of success.

If someone you know is struggling to find success in life, share with them some of these tips for how they can attain the knowledge they need to succeed. Or better yet, take the time to share some of the knowledge you have with them. As Bill Graham said “God has given us two hands – one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.”