Enterprising Youth in Crisis.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Right now, too many of our youth are in crisis as every 29 seconds a youth drops out of high school. Each and every day 700 youth drop out. That means 1.2 million youth are leaving the education system every year. The disturbing reality is that most of the youth who are opting out of traditional education are black and brown.
When our youth are in crisis, we all suffer. We suffer because we do not gain the benefits from the undeveloped brilliance our youth have bubbling within. The word education comes from the Latin word “educere” which means to draw out. The true purpose of education is to assist youth in discovering, developing and nurturing their unique gifts and talents.
There is a deficit that exists in a world that does not provide space for all individuals to become their full self. A recent poll indicated that 80 percent of the youth who have dropped out of high school cited that they did not find ‘ relevance between what they were learning in the classroom and the real world. Youth who have a different learning inclination often find themselves frustrated and unmotivated. Imagine the frustration of being a student in an environment where your gifts, talents and interests are not supported. Those youth that are more enterprising and entrepreneurial are not often provided with the same opportunities to explore their potential as do students who are natural scholars, gifted athletes or leaders. As a result, these youth are provided with little guidance and support.
In another poll conducted by Gallop, 70 percent of African American high school students indicated that they were interested in starting their own businesses post high school, but there are simply no programs in our urban schools to nurture this interest. The educational system, as it exists, is geared toward training individuals to be employees. For many of our youth, the idea of getting a job is not an exciting prospect as they have observed their parents working at a job only to get a paycheck. This generation of youth is more aware than previous generations of the realities of the real world and desire to have more than a mere job. They are not willing to sacrifice fulfillment for a paycheck, but desire to live lives reflective of their individuality.
Jamal, a 19 year old, dropped out of high school during his last year because he felt bored and misunderstood. Jamal said he often spent class time dreaming of his future, and what he was being taught in school had nothing to do with what he wanted in his life. Jamal wanted to start and grow a business; he always saw himself running his own clothing line and would design clothes during class.
Jenny dropped out of high school in 11th grade. Now at age 22, Jenny reflects on never feeling smart at school, and she avoided going as much as possible because she did not like to feel that way in class. Jenny was often embarrassed in class because she just could not seem to grasp the material; eventually, she became frustrated and stopped attending class. Jenny never felt support or encouraged at school; she states that the only students who received positive affirmation were the straight “A” students and athletes.
It is the responsibility of both the educational institutions and parents to address the malignant neglect that has resulted in far too many youth dropping out of a system whose mission is supposed to equip all of our youth for the future.
Ralph Ellison says, “Education is all a matter of building bridges.” It is our collective responsibility to be the bridge builders to lead our youth on the pathway to success. We must educate all of our youth.
In order to begin to shift this crisis, and realign our energies to stimulate all of our students toward a path of success, we must:
1. Demand that our elected officials provide funding for programs that reflect the needs and interest of the students…verbally and in writing
2. Generously affirm youth who are in our circle of influence…our youth need to hear that they are gifted and special
3. Support programs that offer entrepreneurial education…volunteer or contribute financially
4. Become a mentor…young people need role models they can touch and see
5. Support minority owned businesses…when young people see people that they resemble doing well their confidence is boasted.