In his 2012 State of the Union address, President Obama asked states to consider increasing the minimum age for a student to leave school to 18. How do we keep youth engaged and motivated? Teens are unique and their educational experiences should be unique as well. The cookie cutter approach to education leads to our teens dropping out of school or graduating from high school unprepared for higher education or the workforce. The “old way” of teaching is driving our national education reform efforts.
According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, high school drop outs from the class of 2006-2007 will cost the US more than $329 million in lost wages, taxes, and productivity over their lifetime because those who drop out are more likely to be incarcerated, rely on public programs and social services, and go without health insurance than those who graduate from high school. A college education may not be for everyone but graduation from high school is a MUST.
I posted a status on my social media accounts a few days ago that read, “A degree can’t produce passion, compassion, and integrity.” I received quite a few “Likes”, retweets, and interesting comments. The responses I received made me really think about what that statement means to me and led me to write this blog post.
Let me begin by saying that I am one hundred percent pro education. Education encourages research and critical thinking and opens doors of opportunity. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Social Work to support my theories. At the end of 2011 I came to the firm conclusion that The Teen Toolbox work will focus on improving the quality of life for youth involved in the foster care and child welfare system. Actually, foster care is not really a new path or target population for me. In fact, participation in a holiday drive for a residential facility for teen mothers in foster care during my senior year in high school is what helped solidify my career choice. The other option on the table was education. Yep, I was considering becoming a teacher. (Didn’t I tell you that I am pro education?) My passion for helping others, compassionate personality, and personal integrity led me to pursue higher education and more specifically the field of social work.