Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Ready for College--How are we doing?

"One-third of high school graduates require remedial studies once they get to college" is the lead sentence in a challenging article posted today on the Smart Communities blog. "If we are losing one-third to high school dropouts and another one-third of those that actually graduate and go to college can't do entering freshman work, then how many people in the country are we preparing for next generation jobs? " asks Suzanne Morse, President of the Pew Partnership for Civic Change and author of Smart Communities: How Citizens and Local Leaders Can Use Strategic Thinking to Build a Brighter Future.

If we keep investing time and dollars in what we've been doing over and over can we expect any different results?
How do we get more people in business and industry personally connected to this issue? How can we create learning teams in companies and universities who connect directly with students and each other, and innovate new ways to use the internet and non-school hours (and non-school locations) to connect with kids and build aspirations and learning habits, starting in elementary school, that bring more kids through high school and into the jobs and career opportunities of the 21st century.

One way is for companies to build a leadership strategy that encourage employees to get involved with schools and non-school tutoring and/or mentoring programs, as volunteers, leaders, talent and donors, not just in one or two programs, but in programs throughout a city. If a company does business in many cities, then encourage volunteer involvement in many cities.

Then create workplace learning hubs, where volunteers involved in schools and non-school programs talk to each other, share ideas about what works and what could be working better. Use this to arm each volunteer with ideas, and resources, to have greater impact in the school or volunteer-based program where he/she is involved.

Then mine this knowledge. Learn from what your volunteers are learning. Learn and innovate ways your company, or industry, can help these volunteers and these programs have a greater impact on student learning, aspirations, and workplace skills.

Don't wait for someone else to take the lead. It's your company and your industry that needs these workers.

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