The Problem is Us: Tim Elmore, Guest writer

Sometimes I get misunderstood as a guy who’s against kids. Since publishing my latest book, Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save their Future, some think I whine about how this generation of students are undisciplined and feel entitled.

Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I love this generation of students. But they’re in trouble. More than you may think. According to Michelle Rhea, former chancellor of the Washington D.C. public school system, “The truth is, despite a handful of reforms, the state of American education is pitiful and it’s getting worse. Spending in school has more than doubled in the last three decades, but the increased resources haven’t produced better results. The U.S. is currently 21st, 23rd and 25th among 30 developed nations in science, reading and math, respectively. The children in our schools today will be the first generation of Americans who will be less educated than the previous generation.”[i]

Ugh. It’s both sad and unnecessary. So what’s the problem? Why are 3 of every 10 students dropping out of high school?  I have an educated guess.

  • They’re not necessarily stupid.
  • They’re not necessarily bad.
  • They’re not necessarily troubled.

They are bored and have disengaged teachers. Not all of them. Many teachers today are fabulous and are my heroes. But far too many moan about the need for “student engagement” when they’re the ones that need to re-engage.

So, how can so many bad teachers be teaching? It’s simple. It’s the only industry I know where you can perform poorly and keep your job. One of the key problems in American education today: “tenure.” It’s all about job security. Even if you’re a pitifully unproductive teacher—you get to stay in front of the class. So, if the bad teacher won’t leave…the students do.  By the millions each year. The new chapter president in the D.C. teachers’ Union said his top priority is job security for teachers. You see—education is not about the kids. It’s about the adults. That’s a crime.

When I sound the alarm about “Generation iY” I’m not whining about the students. Quite the opposite. I am challenging parents, teachers, coaches and youth workers to re-engage in the most important task we have today—preparing our kids to lead the way into the future.

What are some steps we can take?  Here are a few.

  1. Join us as we engage in this challenge. You can give online at: www.GrowingLeaders.com/give.
  2. Check out Michelle Rhea’s campaign: Students First. (She’s formed a lobbying group to counter the special interests that have hurt graduation rates.)
  3. Read and pass on our latest book, Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save Their Future. Just go to: www.SaveTheirFutureNow.com.

Let’s act now. Let’s solve this problem by first admitting: the problem is us.

Tim


[i] Michelle Rhea, “I’m Not Done Fighting,” Newsweek, December 13, 2010, p. 36.