Following is a more literary form of the business proposal that I have presented to various chamber of commerce in the Los Angeles area. It is interesting to note that unlike academic theory or bureaucratic laced government-run institutions, that which works in the real world works virtually ignoring criticism or conjecture. Yes, Mr. Forbes, capitalism may not only save us but education as well. Here’s to the innovative, problem solving, get ‘er done spirit of the entrepreneur. Peace!
Over the past 17 years, the percentage of four-year college and university students who graduate has dipped more than 10 percentage points, despite increases in enrollment, according to the Council for Aid to Education and the National Governors Association. About 42 percent of students entering four-year colleges or universities graduate (Al Branch, CBS Business Network).
But there’s more. And it gets worse.
Every 26 seconds another student drops out of public high school which translates to nearly one-third of all public high school students dropping out. It’s so bad that Colon Powell and his wife are heading a national movement in an attempt to reverse the trend. But even of those two-thirds who graduate, the picture doesn’t get any brighter. According to a 2007 survey, nearly 90% desired to attend and graduate college. Unfortunately, the majority never did. Even of the current 28% of the population with bachelor’s degrees, within five to ten years 70% will no longer be working in a job related to their major.
So what’s happening? Are our children, our future not getting the help, education, achievement they need or have been promised?
But the plot thickens. Even though learning appears to be happening, there is a disconnect somewhere in the system: “A sizable [number of remedial students entering college] are recent graduates who performed well in high school: A 2008 study by the nonprofit Strong American School found that nearly four out of five remedial students had a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher.”
So why aren’t they learning? Or is there such a large discrepancy between high school and college education that the issue is closing the gap (we have some of the best colleges and universities in the world yet some of the worst performing schools)? Or is it grade inflation or students being pushed through the system just so high schools, even community colleges, can obtain funding? Regarding grades, in college there is a similar problem to that which is occurring at the high school level. More and more is being written about students not learning, even those achieving good grades (As and Bs). So what’s going on?
What is happening is complex but there are several major factors that stand out and must be taken into consideration; in doing so, we will take a look at not only the dropouts and failures but the alleged successes. And what we will discover is that we are looking in all the wrong places and asking all the wrong questions (or no questions at all) to ensure an increased chance at success. But first, let’s look at a few more facts to add to our understanding of the overall issue.
Let’s take a look at high school kids first. Why are so many dropping out? According to a report titled The Silent Epidemic by John Bridgeland (CEO of Civic Enterprise, a publicity group that lead a 2008 national dropout summit), 80% of students surveyed said they dropped out because of a need for “classes that are more interesting and provide opportunities for real-world leaning.” Unfortunately, far too often children are taught out of context with little connection made between what’s being learned in school to that of the real world. Achievers know that without specific understanding of outcomes, what they are or why they even exist, lack of motivation and focus arises negatively affecting achievement.
But there’s more to the drop out picture. More and more households are being run by a single parent-because of divorce sometimes paying for two households-who needs help from their wage-earning children just to pay the bills. Then there’s the minimum wage issue that places wages too high for some companies (especially small business that are in the majority) who can’t afford it, so they cut jobs. This has been part of the reason students drop out of high school; they can’t find a part-time job because there are fewer of them, so they get a full-time job to help mom or dad pay the bills.