Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Dropout Crisis at CPS demands quick action

The feature editorial in today's Chicago SunTimes shows that Chicago Public Schools had a staggering 44% drop out rate and that the rate for Black males was even higher, at 57%. Apparently CPS held a "drop out summit" this week to develop solutions to this problem.

I have two comments. 1) about time; 2) why weren't we invited.

I've written about the Drop Out crisis in previous articles such as here and here so I don't know why this is suddenly a "news" for the SunTimes. It's been a crisis for a long time.

Read some of the drop out crisis articles on the T/MC site and you can learn a lot about this crisis.

And volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring has been a solution for a long time. It's just that the leaders at CPS, and in the Mayor's office, or the media, don't promote this as a solution with the same daily consistency as telephone and finance companies bombard us with ads for their products.

What we have here is a marketing problem. We need leaders who will consistently advocate for volunteer involvement in non profits helping kids connect with tutors/mentors, sports, technology and a variety of other learning and mentoring solutions. And these don't need to be managed or operated by Chicago Public Schools.

We have a window of opportunity. In early February a CEO Summit on Volunteerism was held in New York City, with a goal of unleashing $1 billion in pro bono business talent to support non profit organizations. Jim Morsch of the Lawyers Lend A Hand Program attended the Summit. His observations are posted here.

Wouldn't it be great if a share of this were devoted to building and sustaining a full range of non-school, and school-based tutor/mentor programs who all were focused on helping kids move through school, advanced learning or vocational education, and into jobs and careers!!

In May I'll be hosting the 29th Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference since May 1994. I'm looking for speakers who can talk about the drop out crisis, and who can talk about ways that mentoring can be one part of the solution. I'm also looking for speakers who can show businesses how to be strategically involved in tutoring/mentoring, either in building capacity, or in building business programs that engage volunteers and support the growth of programs that serve their workforce development goals.

Visit the conference web site to find details and submit a workshop proposal, or email with your ideas.


jeffzamoff said...

bravo to you!!! yes, you are right about all of the solutions you suggest. the main cause for dropping out from my research has always been school performance and comprehension- mainly reading and math. in fact prisons plan their expansion based on 3rd grade reading scores. so, your plan would address it most efficiently.

another approach is something called YCC- youth cultural competence, developed by YDRF - the youth development research fund. check out the webpage.

their founder is Edward DeJesus and whereas he does not often volunteer, he would be an amazing speaker for your conference.

jeff - youth worker , NJ

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks Jeff,

I visited the YDRF web site to see the work you're doing and sent an email intro to Ed. I hope you and others will find a way to join us in the Chicago conferences, or in on-line forums dedicated to this problem and solution. Do you or anyone else know of on-line places where volunteers, donors, leaders are in the same discussions, talking about volunteerism and mentoring as a key part of education reform, workforce development and/or poverty reduction?