Monday, December 15, 2014

The Gift of a Dream

The Gift of a Dream
By Jill Jenkins

                The news broadcasts are filled with stories of how unprepared graduating students are to take jobs in the engineering and technology industries.  Some corporations are offering a $10,000.00 bonus to their employees who bring them programmers who know java.  Other corporations are importing programmers from Russia and China and engineers from Pakistan to fill the unfilled positions.  They blame the shortcoming in the schools in America.  Is our education program really to blame?
                It is easy to point fingers and blame schools that have been underfunded for decades.  Most teachers have not seen a salary increase in more than a decade and many have had their salaries cut.  School districts are finding it difficult to find teachers to fill positions in technology, math and science because candidates can make so much more money in industry.  Many school districts dramatically reduced their staffs leaving many educators unemployed.  To add to the teachers’ frustration the media slams their results without understanding the challenges. 

                 Schools in the United States do not just teach the best of the best.  They teach everyone.  Classes are mainstreamed with special education students, students who do not speak English, and students who have both behavior problems, but emotional problems.  All of the students need to be prepared for end of the year tests while crowded into classes of forty or more students. The countries that are often compared to the United States do not teach everyone. They continually separate students into separate learning environments until only the brightest and the best receive an academic education.  Every new idea the universities developed are laid across and overwhelming list of learning goals making actual instructional time a dwindling commodity. Still, most teachers use all of their effort to help these students attain their goals.  Yes, there are teachers who do not teach the new core.  Yes, there are teachers who do not push students, but they are the minority.  Most teachers would be happy if administrators actually took actions against the few bad apples who attacks by the media ought to be directed.  Furthermore, most of the technology careers require post-high school education which is a luxury that many students cannot afford.  In other countries that the United States is compared to higher education is often provided by the state. 

                What could large corporations do to help?  Obviously Bill and Melissa Gates have put their money where their mouths are and so has Warren Buffett.  Other corporations could help as well.  Many of our brightest and best students feel hopeless.  College tuition has become so outrageously expensive that they idea of pursuing a college degree seem unreachable.  Taking out a student loan seems frightening during these difficult economic times.  Despite the fact that with a college education, American students could be filling those programming and engineering jobs, these students settle for a minimum wage job with not future, because they lack hope.  Instead of complaining about finding appropriately skilled jobs, if these same corporations offered $10,000.00 scholarships to American teenagers who show both a strong work ethic and an aptitude, there would be no need to import talent to fill those positions.  If these corporations offered to pay for the students’ Bachelor’s Degree in exchange for five years of employment, the American student would have hope and the corporations would have a large tax break, so everyone would win.  In the past, many corporations invested in the education of their workers who in exchange worked 30 or 40 years for the company.  Companies paid for insurance, and retirement and workers dedicated their lives to them.  Maybe it is time for corporations to give back to America instead of just complaining about it.

                If American students knew that there was a bright future and path to get to that future, they would follow it.  Students from other countries are shown that path and they are taking the opportunities.  If the corporations of American were not so short-sighted, they would see that instead of importing workers or sending jobs to off shore locations, they invested in education of Americans the benefits would not only increase the power of the corporation, but the nation as a whole.  During the industrial revolution, many manufacturers exploited their workers to reap a profit; however, Ford paid his workers a working wage. He invested in his workers.  The Ford Company became stronger and a world leader.  I challenge American Corporation to invest in the future of America.  Give the gift of hope and it will shine for you too.