The Huffington Post: An Open Letter to Secretary of Education John King, Jr.

At Youth About Business, we recognize that investing in our young people is investing in the sustainability of our economy. We must provide a scalable solution so that the thousands of youth in our public schools in our nation’s largest school districts understand the value of collaboration and support.

To accomplish this, our Founder and Executive Director Sam Kirk has requested a meeting with Secretary of Education John King, Jr. to discuss the value of public-private collaboration, and his goals as Secretary of Education. Read Sam Kirk’s open letter to Mr. King on The Huffington Post.

Is the Public Education System Properly Preparing Diversity Youth for the Corporate Workplace?

America’s promise is slowly slipping away from today’s youth, particularly diversity youth and those from underserved and diverse backgrounds.

“In mathematics, 29 nations and other jurisdictions outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years ago,” reports Education Week. “In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009.”

At some point, the private sector must begin to demand better outcomes from our public schools.   Our public education system is producing our future workforce and we must demand that our students are being trained with relevant skills to compete with students across the globe.

Youth About Business is committed to creating a prepared workforce for the 21st century.  As I mentioned to the parents of the thousands of students that have been through Youth About Business, your children are no longer competing with their classmates  and peers for opportunities.  The global nature of our economy has changed everything and we must prepare our students with the skills to compete against talented students from across the world.

Youth About Business addresses the areas where American students are lacking.

Forcing students to solve real life problems at a young age helps them to gradually amass the skills they need to become leaders in their respective fields.  To this point, Youth About Business has created a number of business simulations that expose students to extremely difficult business problems.

One simulation in particular is an exercise where students are placed in small teams and challenged to acquire a billion dollar company.    Students are discouraged from pre-work so that they all start on a level playing field.  We then provide them with resources to solve their problem of protecting shareholder value while making a successful transaction.  We bring in teams of industry executives from the fields of accounting, legal, banking, and marketing to work directly with each team on their transaction.  We also invite IT and HR executives for the students to gain insight into how these areas also factor into their deals.  For many of our students, they have never experienced anything like this before.

It is challenging, fun, and educational.   Moreover, we have found that 80% of the students improve their academic performance once they return to the classroom.  Students also realize that they limit their futures by ignoring any deficiencies they discovered during our programming.  Parents and educators alike tell me that their children go back to school focused, determined to achieve greater results, and dreaming differently about a brighter future for their lives.  The program helps them understand that the competition is greater than they imagined and, because of that, they realize that a  successful career depends on having a very strong work ethic.

This desire to learn and explore is what is missing in our educational system today.  I believe that all students need a firm traditional educational base to be successful, however, the additional exposure to business and finance created through an experiential learning model produces a better outcome and a more business literate workforce for our private sector.

Students in underserved areas also face a greater challenge since there are fewer models of success and fewer educational tools that stimulate their intellectual curiosity.  Thus our nation ends up with higher crime rates and lower educational outcomes.  Youth About Business believes that there is creative genius in all students and if we put them in proper environments that cultivate their reasoning and critical thinking skills, we will see improved outcomes. What we have found is that once they solve their first problem, they build confidence, and welcome the next problem and its increased complexity.  It becomes a mindset and virtuous cycle.

To wrap, I think the world is becoming more competitive in a number of ways.  Public schools, as they are, are not keeping pace with the demands of the private sector.  This will certainly be an obstacle for diverse candidates as they try to market their skills to future employers.  I believe Youth About Business and programs like ours are addressing this gap and helping push the envelope for student development to help make America’s promise to our youth whole again.

Follow us as we get feedback from Educators, Executives, parents, current students and YAB Alum concerning how the Youth About Business experience uniquely prepares them to succeed in the global workforce!