Monday, January 25, 2010

9 Seconds

What if I told you every 9 seconds, a High School Student drops out.

With all the challenges our nation faces, this might be the most apocalyptic. Every 9 seconds adds another soul to possible abject poverty, or worse.

Which if not dealt with will have dire consequences to our nations economic long term future.

As if President Obama didn't have enough on his plate, with two foreign wars, a great recession caused by the bursting housing bubble, and 1.3 trillion dollars of debt before his first day of work. The crisis in our nations public schools has the potential to drag down our economy for a generation.

Thomas Friedman writes about how our nation should be focusing on innovation, which could have a two-fold effect on our economy and school age youth alike.

He writes;

What the country needs most now is not more government stimulus, but more stimulation. We need to get millions of American kids, not just the geniuses, excited about innovation and entrepreneurship again. We need to make 2010 what Obama should have made 2009: the year of innovation, the year of making our pie bigger, the year of “Start-Up America.”

To jump start this entrepreneurial spirit he recommends President Obama to stimulate the market with tax incentives.

He writes;

Obama should make the centerpiece of his presidency mobilizing a million new start-up companies that won’t just give us temporary highway jobs, but lasting good jobs that keep America on the cutting edge. The best way to counter the Tea Party movement, which is all about stopping things, is with an Innovation Movement, which is all about starting things. Without inventing more new products and services that make people more productive, healthier or entertained — that we can sell around the world — we’ll never be able to afford the health care our people need, let alone pay off our debts.

Obama should bring together the country’s leading innovators and ask them: “What legislation, what tax incentives, do we need right now to replicate you all a million times over” — and make that his No. 1 priority

While our economic recovery may hinge on innovation, our long term sustainability hinges on our youths educational system. Friedman highlights two Obama initiatives that are having great success, National Lab Day, and The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship.

The NFTE primarily works in low income areas, and has recently produced a film that Friedman and myself believe is truly inspirational. I saw the film today, and believe it should be required viewing for children across the nation. The film is called ten9eight and tracks the lives of 12 students competing in a national entrepreneurial competition. If you are one of the people who do not believe in our countries youth, this film will change your mind.

What the film told me was we have an un-tapped potential in this country that is being ignored by an educational system that is underwhelming to say the least. With a 30% national dropout rate this is more important then the war on terror, health care, and banking reform combined. Our nations long term survival may be at stake, because an un-educated, un-employed, un-motivated future populist, could not only be a drain on our economy, but begin a viscous circle that our nation may not be able to break without comprehensive education reforms.

Click here is a preview of ten9eight.

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