Some 7,000 students in the United States decide to drop out of school every day – that’s 1.2 million students each year. And, a poll of American adults shows that some 29 percent are concerned that their children will drop out.
United Way Worldwide has launched an initiative to recruit one million volunteer tutors and role models in an attempt to stem that flow. It’s part of a national initiative and report called “Voices for the Common Good: America Speaks Out on Education.”
It was unveiled at a star-studded event moderated by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. Key leaders participating including U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Melody Barnes, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council; Former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings; and Co-chair of America’s Promise Alma Powell.
“Few issues are as important as the national debate on our education systems, yet the voices of everyday people haven’t been part of the conversation,” said Brian Gallagher, president and CEO of United Way Worldwide.
The study also showed Americans don’t believe the problems of young people and education start or stop at the doorsteps of public schools. People believe that when you improve schools, you improve communities and that instilling values is just as important to people as academics.
Survey findings included:
- 29 percent of Americans polled are concerned that their children will drop out of school;
- Americans don’t feel the problems of young people and education start or stop at the doorsteps of public schools;
- People believe that when you improve schools, you improve communities;
- Instilling values is just as important to people as academics;
- People feel disconnected from schools; and,
- Americans want to do something that helps make a difference, but they don’t know how.
The United Way Women’s Leadership Council (WLC), a network of nearly 50,000 women in 120 communities, has taken on recruiting those one million volunteers.
In 2008, United Way announced a goal to cut by half the number of young people who drop out of high school by 2018. In the fall of 2010, United Ways around the country hosted “community conversations,” to elicit ideas and ways to improve not only our public schools, but communities at-large so that children of all economic backgrounds have the chance to succeed.