In an earlier post, I encouraged readers to tune into the annual Clinton Global Initiative. This gathering promotes and profiles the search for innovative and imaginative solutions to problems associated with poverty, education, the environment and economic development throughout the world. The idea that non-governmental organizations (NGO), government and the corporate communities, as well as individuals can and are providing solutions to the challenges we face in this area is refreshing and inspiring in a climate in which the constant drumbeat of 'we can't' is so deafening. And these global solutions could have dramatic implications for U.S. communities as we grapple with these same problems.
Imagine an innovative alternative for business engagement in public education. Usually we call for corporate executives to provide mentors and scholarships for urban youth in failing schools. What if we called for creative 'partnerships' in which businesses and industries would select students with the potential to succeed, with scholarships, loans and employment, based on a commitment to return to those communities, giving service and mentoring to those students following after them?
Or what if instead of 'service learning' projects, we engaged students on group learning activities tackling real time, real life economic, environmental or safety problems on the campus or the community. Businesses and even government could shepherd the project along with teachers, as long as they do not put caps on the students imagination that stifle solutions by adult 'practicality'?
What if we address barriers to academic achievement that prevent students from engaging in the disciplines that we know make for success, like homework. Children who are not healthy, for instance, don't learn well. Why aren't we enrolling every student in public school without private insurance in CHIP or Medicaid?
Commitments to bring similar solutions already in some stage of implementation were sought at this year's CGI. They are doable and these, or variations on their themes need to be brought beyond the stage of experimentation and made the focus of a new thrust in overthrowing a test taking mania that is ill serving our children and our country.
Watch the clip below. I encourage you to watch it all. But the first 10 minutes or so, involve creative education initiatives that address some of the opportunities proposed earlier. Perhaps you can think of even better ways to implement something fresh and challenging. But we really need to get started. Our present and our future is at stake...