Seeing the World Accurately

What do we know today that we didn’t understand yesterday? What have we learned? How have we learned it? Could this process be applied elsewhere in politics, in business, in our lives?

We all have those moments when we think, “if I had only known then what I know now.” But, is this really possible? Can we be prematurely smarter, more insightful, even wiser? I think so, at least sometimes.

A product commercial used to advertise “the pause that refreshes.” Well, take it further. How about the pause that lets us think before we act. The pause that lets us see what we were missing. The pause that lets us see the world more accurately. 20/20 foresight, instead of 20/20 hindsight.

The pause. Try it. It works.

A Little Love Makes a Big Difference

This is a true story about Joy, a school teacher, and Brian, an accountant, and their two children, Andrew (11) and Leah (9). They lead a normal, happy life, except that Andrew has Juvenile Diabetes. Insulin shots and blood sugar checks are part of the family’s daily routine, something that everyone handles with grace and equanimity.

Late one night during this past tax season, Joy asked a tired Brian what he’d like for his forthcoming 40th birthday. Without hesitating, Brian replied, “I don’t want anything for myself. All I’d like is for 400 people to send me a birthday card with one dollar enclosed to be used for research to help fight Juvenile Diabetes.”

Unbeknown to Brian, Joy decided to send an email to their friends and relatives. She asked each to please help her to surprise Brian by sending him a birthday card along with a check or a dollar bill to her at their home address. Because Brian was working late in the days leading up to his birthday, she could intercept the mail without him knowing.

Joy had hoped for a modest response and a few dollar bills. She never expected to give Brian a large box with hundreds of birthday cards and letters containing checks and cash on his birthday. Brian promised Andrew and Leah that they would open the envelopes together over the following few weeks.

Now, several months later, the original batch of envelopes has been opened and approximately $8,000 has been donated – 20 times Brian‚Äö√Ñ√¥s wish. And, Joy’s idea continues to spread and checks continue to arrive. If you’d like to help fulfill Brian’s birthday wish, you can send a donation directly to the:
<p style=”text-align: center;”>Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF)</p>
<p style=”text-align: center;”>11 S. La Salle Street – Suite 1800</p>
<p style=”text-align: center;”>Chicago, IL 60603-1344</p>
And, don’t forget to put a note on your check that it’s in honor of Brian’s 40th birthday. If you wish, you can also send me a message, which I’ll forward to Brian and Joy, so that they‚Äö√Ñ√¥ll know what you’ve done and, more importantly, so that they can tell Andrew and Leah.

Sometimes, all it takes to make a difference in the world is a good idea and a great love.

The Education Catastrophe

Not enough kids are graduating, and when they do, not enough are prepared for college, or life.

The numbers barely change, year after year. As I wrote a year ago, there is a graduation gap in our public schools, especially in our cities. Only 53% of the high school students in the nation’s 50 largest cities are graduating on time, while nationwide only 71% graduate. Approximately 1.2 million students drop out each year – averaging 7,000 every school day or one every 26 seconds.

Those who drop out of high school are less likely to be steadily employed (only 37%), and are more than twice as likely to live in poverty. In the 50 largest cities, the median income for high school dropouts is $14,000 – significantly lower than the median income of $24,000 for high school graduates and $48,000 for college graduates.

And, of those students who do graduate high school, estimates range from as low as 8% in some school districts to 20%-30% of the students are actually prepared for college. The recent financial and environmental catastrophes may capture the headlines and our attention, but unless we improve the education of our children, we are doomed to erode our status as a nation and our children are doomed to a life of missed opportunity.

***

Report: Cities in Crisis 2009, Closing the Graduation Gap

Read more about Closing the Graduation Gap at:

http://www.americaspromise.org/Resources/Research-and-Reports/c/Cities-In-Crisis-2009.aspx

Facts from Cities in Crisis, Closing the Graduation Gap

  • From 1995-2005, the average graduation rate of the 50 largest cities is well below the national average of 71%, and there remains an 18 percentage point urban-suburban gap.
  • Only about half (53%) of all young people in the nation‚Äö√Ñ√¥s 50 largest cities are graduating from high school on time.
  • Nationwide, nearly one in three U.S. high school students fails to graduate with a diploma.
  • Approximately 1.2 million students drop out each year ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ averaging 7,000 every school day or one every 26 seconds.
  • Among minority students, the problem is even more severe with nearly 50 percent of African American and Hispanic students not completing high school on time.
  • Those who drop out of high school are less likely to be steadily employed, and earn less income when they are employed, compared with those who graduate from high school. Approximately one-third (37 percent) of high school dropouts nationwide are steadily employed and are more than twice as likely to live in poverty.
  • High school dropouts account for 13 percent of the adult population, but earn less than six percent of all dollars earned in the U.S.
  • In the 50 largest cities, the median income for high school dropouts is $14,000 ‚Äö√Ñ√¨ significantly lower than the median income of $24,000 for high school graduates and $48,000 for college graduates.
  • Nationally, high school dropouts were the only group of workers who saw income levels decline over the last 30 years.
  • Sixteen of the nation‚Äö√Ñ√¥s 50 largest cities had a graduation rate lower than 50 percent in the principal school district serving the city.
  • Students in the suburban areas of the nation‚Äö√Ñ√¥s 50 largest cities were considerably more likely to graduate (77 percent) than students in the country‚Äö√Ñ√¥s urban schools (59 percent).