Although our nation is frequently considered the Land of Opportunity, there is plenty wrong with that statement. One of the biggest issues that our generation has faced and future generations will face is the idea of education, and how to improve educational system in what we like to think of as the greatest country in the world. The problem that we see in education simply is that we are straggling behind other nations; test scores may demonstrate this, but we can look beyond test scores and still see how our students are going through our educational system from elementary school to high school without the skills nor the opportunities to excel in a career and in their lives in general. That lack of skills and opportunities is what I hope to discuss in this blog, and the reason I care so much is because the idea of being a teacher and working with youth has always interested me – we are building the next generation of thinkers.
There are systemic causes of this education problem that we face, as well as consistent changes over time that have altered the way schools approach education. It is abundantly clear that those who are living in poverty do not receive the same opportunities for primary schooling as those who are more fortunate in terms of wealth, and this is a systemic issue that needs to be fixed. In areas where poverty is abundant, you can see entire neighborhoods with kids who don’t go to school because parents either cannot afford it, or do not care enough to ensure their children are enrolled. Even for kids who are enrolled, their ability to perform in school is hindered by the fact of what is going on at home (such as the family’s struggle for obtaining sufficient food) as well as the lack of support in the schools, whether that is from low-quality teachers or low-quality technology in the classroom. This has become the norm as school districts in low-income areas fall behind while other districts in affluent areas don’t give a second glance. The other reason for poor education in my mind is the lack of skills being transferred to students. If we want to have creative students who are thinkers that will solve problems in the future, then we need to give them the opportunity to do so first in school so that they won’t be stuck simply memorizing facts and forgetting them by the next week of class.
So despite these problems that have gone on for quite a while, there are some solutions to ease us in the right direction over the next few decades. Investing in teachers is the first step in remedying this problem. Higher pay for teachers and ensuring the quality of our teachers will allow the educational process to excel for our students, both in and out of the classroom, and will pay its own dividends in the future. Furthermore, to aid some of the systemic issues, the inequality gap is a major issue that needs to be worked on. These families need to be able to sustain themselves, so that students will have the support from their families at home and eventually from the faculty and facilities within the school. Business solutions that could be a part of this process, some of which are already in place, are companies that partner with schools, either nationally or locally, to help give the schools what they need. This could range from materials and equipment to food for school lunches or events.
So yes, I do think that businesses can be utilized successfully to solve social issues. However, as we have read about in this week’s readings, social entrepreneurship can easily be incorporated into improving our education system. I am confident there are many people who want to have a career in helping local schools, and just don’t know exactly how to do so. Social entrepreneurship is the first step in accomplishing those goals. Any company that is created with the goal of solving a social issue can aid their intended beneficiaries, and this would usually be with a stakeholder mindset. There are so many avenues that could be pursued in helping improve education, and if you think of all possible stakeholders, it is basically everybody in this nation – our generation’s students will be the ones leading our country in a few decades. And so, I think you need to take a stakeholder approach in any type of social entrepreneurship that you would like to work in.
Image via Candice Carlson at http://www.myeducationadvices.com/elementary-school/