I was recently welcomed to the state of North Carolina by the North Carolina Medical Alliance and the Chamber of Commerce of Sanford to speak about focusing on strengths in schools and communities as a cornerstone philosophy in improving the drop-out rate.
At a gathering of supporters of the Communities In Schools organization in Sanford, Chamber of Commerce Director, Bob Joyce turned to me and said, “Just think of what we could do if the government turned its resources to our schools!” I envisioned this and felt–well, sad.
In this time of economic unrest that acutely effects so many Americans, it seems the conversation about what politicians have planned for our nation’s educational system has been lost. The alarming fact about this is that our economic situation may well improve in the short term due to recent decisions in Washington, but what we are failing to address is what happens in the long run when we are not graduating citizens ready to enter the workforce or prepared to understand and thereby uphold the basic premises of our democracy.
Of all the proposals made by legislators, one thing we know from the educational field is that by helping young people identify their unique contribution by developing their strengths, we are ensuring our communities long term viability.
A rising tide of concerned citizens understand this premise. It was hopeful to be in North Carolina and in particular in Sanford, where I met with educational officials and community leaders to begin the conversation about focusing on assets and strengths as a way to strengthen communities. But this is a far cry from the work that we must ultimately do. America needs to wake up and take the topic of our future generation seriously. This will take commitment in the form of financial investment. And it will take leadership from both within and outside the school. People like Bob Joyce and the citizens of Sanford are taking this responsibility seriously even at a time when their portfolios are shrinking. The rest of the country will need to follow suit.