Thursday, November 05, 2009

Lowering the HS Drop Out Rate - Heavy Lifting to Do

On Wednesday, Nov. 4, I attended a High School Dropout Prevention Summit in Bloomington, Ill. I was one of several hundred people from around the state. You can see the complete list of attendees here.

Ed Rust, CEO of State Farm Insurance Company, was the host of the event. Alma Powell, Chairman of America's Promise was the keynote speaker.

Mr. Rust led off the meeting with statistics that showed the negative economic impact of high drop out rates, and the cost-benefit to Illinois if we could reduce this by even a small percent. You an see the statistics here. Many employees of State Farm, and of Boeing, helped facilitate the sessions of this event. It shows how volunteers can do more to support tutoring/mentoring than just being tutors/mentors.

He led off the meeting saying, "we have some heavy-lifting to do" to reduce the drop out rate in Illinois, and prepare more youth for 21st century jobs and careers.I agree and look forward to working with people who attended, and who organized, this event, to make that happen.

The T/MC has created maps showing where there are concentrations of high poverty, and poorly performing schools. These are areas with some of the highest drop out rates. We overlay business locations on these maps, to encourage companies to develop communications strategies that get volunteers involved from all of the places where they do business. These volunteers can support technology, be board members, help with human resources and planning, in addition to being tutors/mentors. They just need to be coached to take these roles.

I hope that some of the people attending the summit will follow up on the challenges of the Drop Out Summit, and will attend the Tutor/Mentor Conference in Chicago on Nov. 19 and 20, where they can move a step forward to engagement with the different programs already in this battle and who need reinforcements to continue doing their work.

You can read more about the drop out crisis in this section of the T/MC library.

I'll post more articles about this DropOut summit over the next few days.

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