Friday, September 5, 2008
Calling All Community Organizers - - Help Support MI Students
"About one in every six high-schoolers in Genesee County did not graduate in four years, according to 2007 data released . . . by the state of Michigan."
Recently, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) took a tour of Traverse City, home to an 84% high school graduation rate, roughly the same as Genesee County. Students are dropping out at increasing rates. This State is facing a vicious cycle relying on higher education and training to bring employers to Michigan and cure an economy that's been suffering for decades. Yet, how can the State count on highly educated Michigan workers when Michigan high schools are having so many problems even graduating students?
To use an Obama term, there is hope. However, hope will not magically appear as a result of government action; instead, hope is going to have to come from us. Community organizing is getting a bad rep at the Republican convention. With one hand, Republicans enjoyed patting community organizers for picking up the slack left by the federal government in dealing with the crisis in New Orleans. With the other hand, former NY Mayor, Rudy Guiliani, and Republican VP nominee, Sarah Palin, stated that community organizers do not serve as important of a role as elected officials. Here in Michigan, we should obviously disagree.
After decades of state and federal government action, Michigan still suffers from a languishing economy and educational disappointment. Government cannot fix everything. Only we the people can fix our problems with education. Here's four ways we can get involved . . .
First, those who work hard and believe in the community should have the right to scholarship funds so that tomorrow's future leaders receive the education they need. No child should ever question the trade-off between pursuing their educational goals and the realities of high interest student loans. Community organizers can assist in the creation of scholarships to support young scholars.
Second, we have to take personal accountability for Michigan's future and realize that our own progress effects Michigan. Community organizers focus dedication and talent, reminding young people in the community that there is always hope and a place where they can positively use their skills and talents.
Third, students need mentoring to put life in prospective. Community organizers fulfill this important function quite well.
Fourth, students need support at home, however, welfare programs have proven to be an inadequate solution as these programs take parents out of the home, provide slight compensation, and nurture an environment of dependence not conducive to educational ambition. It takes a community to raise a child and neighborhood organizations need to take responsibility in providing support.
I refuse to say that government has no role in all of this. Government must fulfill a support role. However, our elected leaders should not take community organizers for granted and assume their own superiority because a government run by people that arrogant has no other choice but to oppress and fail.