Our youth of today look at the educational system and ask, “Why?” They look at the values of their parents and say, “That’s not for me!” They laugh at the political machinery, see how environmental and social concerns are few, and say, “Nothing is working.” They live with hopelessness in a love-starved world and feel, “What’s the use?” So begins the life of abuse in all its ugly forms. It does not have to be that way.
Warehousing of youths within the social systems, which happens today whether intended or not, only continues this disempowerment. They take it out on themselves without knowing what they are doing or why, causing social issues of near epidemic proportions in our burgeoning cities and an overload for our courts, educational institutions, social service systems, and treatment facilities. Rural areas are experiencing a growing problem as well. Can we find collective answers and implement solutions? We believe so.
Visionary insights and perspectives lead to paradigm changes in society. Currently, the situation regarding at-risk youth is cumbersome and oblique in regards to understanding the ‘big picture’ and the solutions necessary to empower change in our youth. As a society, we are failing our young people miserably. Recidivism within the youth correctional and social service programs, evidenced by the high concern of State officials and educators across the nation, needs our collective attention now. We need a program that synergizes available resources and rallies the public spirit toward a new approach to empowering change within the disenfranchised youth caught in the cycles of rebellion and rejection.
Experience and research has shown that three critical components, innovative charter school, residential treatment center and community technology center can indeed work as one, which can profoundly affect youth in positive directions. We need a learning organization that uses a holistic systems approach toward education, treatment programs, and community engagement. These programs meet the emotional and intellectual needs of the youth, which allows the person to grow and the student to learn while understanding the value of their education and purpose in community development.
The need for implementation of a better approach is obvious to those within the juvenile correctional and treatment systems. Arizona is nearly last on the list of per-student spending (see chart to right) per-pupil. Arizona’s expenditures for client (social services) and student (district dollars) have not met the needs of our future community members. Dollars reflect diligence to some degree and we might want to stop pointing fingers and learn how to adjust and grow effectively, perhaps even looking at some new models and investing in innovation instead of repairing a broken system.
This potential plan would detail a high-level framework and action plan that takes initiative using proven processes and technology from a variety of resources. We already know that a lack of collaboration and cooperation has caused the demise of large corporations. It is good to learn from that and make changes. The inclusion of a data center for e-curriculum storage, subscription-based and web hosting services creates an additional revenue stream while providing computer training opportunities for the students.
Do we want to continue refusing to learn from our children? We know through experience and observation that our youth are changing the face of our society, from smart device-driven interactions to devouring information at light speed and asking questions that challenge the status quo on a regular basis. This new kind of team (zeitgeists of a new age) has a unique combination of skill sets that allows them to utilize collaborative learning in order to develop processes and programs that fit the unique situations. The value of the ideas of each young person that enters the environment increases with the ‘viral’ effects. It gets unexpected results.
We truly need to change the way we think about K-12 education if we are going to develop sustainability as an American culture and/or global leader. The best classroom managers utilize the use of smart devices, but not every community is smart-device ready nor does everyone have the income to support them. The sense made common recently is that these devices are doing more, amongst peer groups, to eliminate face-to-face communication and therefore inhibiting the development of appropriate and/or working social skills. The virtual world needs bridges that get people interacting more effectively, even though the efficiency of digital transactions (communications of many types) now spans a global environment.
We can really learn from those who’ve gone before us in the trial-and-error experimentation of growing organizations that flourish? Traditional structure found in both business and education is challenged by the idea of initiative and innovation through understanding the need for collaborative alliances – cooperation instead of competition. It’s been said that collaboration is a choice where cooperation can be coerced. Let us begin to make better choices; find and support leadership that examples a new way of thinking about education possibilities. Edward DeBono, a well-known organizational guru and thought leader, clearly addresses this concept below:
“At any moment our thinking is shaped by a number of factors. Sometimes we are aware of these factors and sometimes they are so much in the background that they exert their powerful influence in a hidden way. We can challenge these shaping factors just as we challenge existing methods, concepts, or ideas. But in this case we are not challenging something that already exists. We are challenging the factors and pressures that lead us to think in a certain way.” (Serious Creativity, 1992)
Thank you for sharing time and showing up in this thoughtmosphere.
*some ideas presented here are contained within the business plan for Spectrum Academy.