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Mind The Gap

  • 2 Min Read

This week we’re at Fusion 2015 looking at some of the “big questions” in education. Yesterday, we asked: “does education need to change?”

I answered that question by saying — yes — education needs to change. As educators, we have an obligation to help lawmakers and political leaders understand how and why that change needs to happen.

The next question, of course, is what steps we need to take to change education. Or, to put the question more specifically: If we think education is valuable, how do we help more people graduate from high school or postsecondary or an apprenticeship?

Governments and organizations like the OECD have done their part by setting ambitious targets for attainment rates. In America, the goal is to achieve a 60 percent attainment rate by as early as 2020.

That’s an attempt to reverse an alarming statistic: in 1990, America ranked first in the world in degree attainment. Today, it’s fifth in the world and it ranks only 14th among young adults.

The problem isn’t just that people aren’t finishing postsecondary education. An average of 857 high school students are dropping out every hour, of every school day. That’s over one million high school students every year.

The economic cost alone should cause us to take this crisis seriously.

According to a 2014 Pew study:

“Millennial college graduates ages 25 to 32 who are working full time earn more annually—about $17,500 more—than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma. The pay gap was significantly smaller in previous generations. College-educated Millennials also are more likely to be employed full time than their less-educated counterparts (89% vs. 82%) and significantly less likely to be unemployed (3.8% vs. 12.2%).”

The data is clear: if we want people to be successful and if we want our economy to be strong, we’ve got to “mind the gap,” as they say in the London Underground.

We’ve got to do more to help more young people finish the course of study they’ve started and, if possible, reach even higher.

The next question is: what can you and I do to help close that gap?

I’ll be tackling that question in my next blog post.

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