Go to jail or get a degree?

February 6, 2009 | filed under give time/money, moment of truth, pay attention | Leave a Comment 

Being as rich as he is, Bill Gates can definitely effect great change. He spoke at TED this year on how he’s trying to change the world right now. During his 20 minute talk, he asked how do we stop malaria and how do we improve education.

I truly enjoyed this speech in its entirety, but the highlights were at 5:05 – 5:30 and generally everything after 7:57 when he starts talking about education. He provides some startling statistics at 9:51 – 10:50.

According to the research Gates references, if you’re low income, you have less than a 25% chance of finishing college should you not drop out in high school. Over 30% of students entering high school in this country never finish. In some areas, the drop out rate is over 50%. I think it’s 40% here in Bexar County.

Everyone’s not built to be a teacher, and definitely not a good one. While effective teachers are certainly a large part of the solution, so are tutors and mentors. Get involved however you can. I recently signed up to mentor a high schooler since there’s one right across the street. One hour a week. Such a small commitment that can make a huge difference. Really, I wish I’d thought of it sooner. Yet and still…it’s never too late.

Communities In Schools is a nationwide nonprofit focused on preventing kids from dropping out. Sign up to tutor or mentor an elementary, middle, or high school student. Mentor multiple students…whatever your time permits. Call your nearest school and see how you can get involved to help. Let’s all do our part because none of us are disconnected from this phenomenon. None of us.