Monday, May 09, 2005

Chicago Schools Graduation rate low. Media misses opportunity.

Today, May 9, 2005, the headline in the Chicago Tribune was "City's college-bound rate a third less than thought, and in the Chicago Sun-Times was "City Schools Study: 47% go to College". Both articles pointed out disturbing information, but neither pointed to additional information that readers could use to know more about the problem, it's impact on Chicago, alternative paths to careers, or ways readers could become personally involved in solutions that help mentor kids to careers.

On Friday, April 29, I attended a forum in Chicago titled Youth on the Streets: Lost in the Wilderness. It was hosted by the Alternative Schools Network, The Chicago Community Trust and the Woods Fund of Chicago. I wrote about this in my blog. The research shows that youth who don't go on to college earn far less and cost society more than youth who do go to college. This is just one of many reports that show why people in business, churches, universities, and living in the middle class and affluent parts of the Chicago region, should be reading headlines link today's and looking for ways to get involved.

The problem is, too few people putting out the research or controlling the media, are thinking of ways to use the Internet for learning and collaboration and community problem solving.

Yesterday I met for about 4 hours with 39 people in an internet chat/networking forum that was part of the Tutor/Mentor eConfernece ( ). More than a dozen countries were represented. Information shared showed how people can use the Internet to learn and collaborate, while the econference illustrates how anyone can send an invitation and gather people to discuss a specific topics.

While I hope others will join the econference workshops today through Thursday, or that others will attend the face to face Tutor/Mentor Leadership Conference being held at the Northwestern University Law School on Thursday and Friday ( , my larger vision is that others will integrate this thinking into their own actions. When someone publishes research and when someone writes a story that calls attention to the problem, both should learn to point to places and on-line forums where people can meet to learn more, reflect on the information and on potential solutions, and find places where they can get involved to solve the problem.

We don't have million dollar ad budgets yet we have million dollar messages. If we link these messages to innovation, collaboration and problem solving networks, we can increase participation and results without dramatically increasing expenses.

As Merri Dee (WGN TV) is fond of saying, "If it is to be, it is up to me."

Each of us should reflect on what this means to us.

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