The Connection InitiativeHelping students connect a qualityeducation to their future well-being
The challenge … Helping studentsconnect education to future finances
Five years in the making“How well are we doing as a school district, in terms of helping students connect educationto a pair of Nike tennis shoes?” That’s the question Wes Hall, CEO of the Institute for StudentEmpowerment, posed, to the superintendent of Omaha Public Schools District. Thesuperintendent, Dr. John Mackiel, responded, “Wes, I’m not sure we’re doing that.” Thatquestion and the subsequent response was the impetus for a five year research project thatmeasured student’s attitudes regarding education, information, and their future well-being.Mr. Hall and his team were granted access to students, classrooms, teachers and parents,throughout the district. Four high schools were selected to house the “StudentEmpowerment Program.” The success of the program was immediate and students deemed“Disengaged” recommitted to their education, stayed in school, recovered credits andgraduated.
Cont.For Hall, those successes were not enough, what he sought was empirical data tosubstantiate his assumption. As a result of observing and recognizing recurringpatterns of behavior contributing to under-achievement and dropout, Hall created a43-question survey that could assist in confirming his theory (students who do notconnect a quality education to their future well-being, struggle to vigorouslyparticipate in their educational process).The survey was given to 2000 students, of which 1445 students completed the survey.The survey was taken during the school day and the process was supervised by theclassroom teacher. The results of the survey overwhelmingly confirmed Hall’sassumptions and provided the data necessary to move his theory to the next stage ofdevelopment (survey results enclosed).In 2012, a high school in the district agreed to offer the “Student EmpowermentProgram,” as an elective course as part of their fall offerings. The program is currentlybeing administered by a certified teacher and students receive a credit towardgraduation upon successfully completing the course. The course uses social studiescore standards.The project was funded in-part by Susie Buffet and the Sherwood Foundation, The WeitzFoundation, Omaha Public Schools and the Omaha Community Foundation.
The Data According to an ad placed by the Wall Street Journal, “Information is the new currency,” (December 1, 2011, Wall Street Journal). In this era, information is a marketable commodity, yet many students don’t connect information with money. % Agree % I don’t know % Disagree Money comes from information 35 43 22 I seek out information on my own 44 37 19 I know how to turn information into money 33 41 26 Money comes from information I seek out information on my own I know how to turn information into money Strongly Strongly Strongly Strongly Strongly Strongly Disagree Agree Disagree Agree Agree Disagree 7% 10% 6% 12% 15% 10% DisagreeDisagree 13% 15% Disagree Agree Agree 16% 25% Agree 21% Dont Dont 29% Don’t Know Know Know 37% 43% 41%
Students aren’t alone is their challenge to connect information with future finances. Is it possible for anEnglish teacher to help a student connect English to money? When the subject of English is viewed as acourse, the challenge can be great, but when English is broken down to words and information, thosebytes of information can be shown to be of great value. English represents “Conversational and literaryCurrency,” valuable commodities to anyone seeking advancement. % Agree % I don’t know % DisagreeMy teachers help me connect information to money 32 43 25My school environment teaches me how to connect 32 41 27information to moneyThe adults in my life teach me how to use education 54 26 20to make moneyThe adults in my life use education to make money 45 34 21 My teachers help me connect My school environment teaches me information to money how to connect information to money Strongly Strongly Strongly Strongly Agree Disagree Agree Disagree 10% 10% 12% 8% Disagree Disagree Agree Agree 17% 17% 22% 20% Dont Dont Know Know 43% 41% The adults in my life teach me how to The adults in my life use education to use education to make money make money Strongly Strongly Strongly Disagree Strongly Disagree Agree 8% Agree 9% 18% Disagree 22% 12% Disagree 12% Dont Know Agree Dont Agree 26% 32% Know 27% 34%
Despite the enormous amount of positive stimuli students receive verbally about education and their future well-being, ample information to the contrary appears to be making as great or a greater impression on many students. An important amount of students don’t believe they need a quality education to attract money. % Agree % I don’t know % Disagree I don’t need education to make money 23 22 55 I don’t connect school with money, so I don’t see 24 28 48 school work as important I’m not going to use most of the information I learn 28 30 42 in school after I graduateI don’t need education to make money I don’t connect school with money, so I I’m not going to use most of the don’t see school work as important information I learn in school Strongly Strongly after I graduate Agree Agree Strongly 11% Strongly 8% Strongly Agree Disagree Disagree 11% 21% Agree 18% Agree 16% Strongly 12% Agree Disagree 17% 31% Dont Disagree Know Dont Dont Disagree Know Disagree 24% 22% Know 27% 28% 24% 30%
Many high school students are still experiencing significant peer pressure related to the subject of being or acting smart. The appearance of being or acting educated is frowned upon in many student/peer circles. Although the subject of “Dumbing down” is widely recognized and frequently discussed in educational forums, an intentional remedy is yet to be implemented. % Agree % I don’t know % Disagree Speaking intelligently is frowned upon amongst 24 38 38 my friends I’m embarrassed to be smart around my friends 24 18 58 I come to school to see my friends 55 25 20 Speaking intelligently is frowned upon I’m embarrassed to be smart around I come to school to see my friends amongst my friends my friends Strongly Strongly Strongly Strongly Agree Agree Disagree Disagree 8% 10% 8% 18% Disagree Agree Strongly Agree Strongly 12% 14% Agree 16% Disagree 27% 36% Dont Dont Dont KnowDisagree Know Agree Know Disagree 18% 25% 20% 38% 28% 22% While an overwhelming amount of students agree they go to school to get an education (76%) and that they go to school so they will one day obtain a diploma (73%), many of those same students do not see education as a means to future finances (34%). % Agree % I don’t know % Disagree I come to school so I can get a good education 76 7 17 I come to school so I can one day get a diploma 73 12 15 Graduating from high school will help me attract money 66 18 16 I come to school so I can get a I come to school so I can, one Graduating from high school will good education day, get a diploma help me attract more money Strongly Strongly Strongly Disagree Disagree Disagree 11% 9% Disagree 8% Disagree Disagree 8% 6% 6% Dont Know Dont Strongly Strongly Know Strongly Dont Agree 7% Agree Know Agree 12% Agree 37% Agree 53% 21% 52% 18% 23% Agree 29%
PropositionThe data results suggest a significant number of students do not connect education and the acquisitionof information to their future financial well-being. The current system of education simply has notcaught up with the current era, from which our students function. While education is bundled incourses, and units, the world of the modern day student is comprised of bytes of information.Students recognize how information equals money when shown examples of Facebook billionaire, MarkZuckerberg, but left to answer the question, “Money comes from information” few, independently,make the connection. Thus, in many instances kids overlook the education process, deeming it a ritual ofcourses, instead of looking deeper into each unit and recognizing the monetary value inherent inmastering information.The fact so many Americans find themselves in financial disarray may be attributed to an earlymisunderstanding of how education and the acquisition of information factor into the attraction ofwealth. While information is tangible and used in every form of commerce and business, few surveyedunderstood the connection.True reform should consider the aforementioned disconnect and seek to incorporate strategies that aidstudents in connecting education and the acquisition of information to future finances. Academicconstructs designed to helps students, parents and teachers quantify information should be put in placeto counter negative images and advance the true educational idea.Continued research, observation and introduction of information, can assist in determining the positiveimpact corrective information has on students, and their ability to achieve. By introducing informationthat impacts critical thinking/problem solving in the area of connecting education and the acquisition ofinformation to future finances, we can then measure its effect on the achievement gap.For more information about the survey or how you and your district can participate, contact Wes Hall firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Institute at 402-612-3944.
Since 2007 – 2012 we partnered with Omaha Public Schools and helped student transform from potential dropouts to high school graduates
Helping disengaged students make the connection