Thursday, March 09, 2017

When former high school dropouts become CEOs

This article from WBEZ is about students at an alternative school who are learning skills that will be useful on the job market. There's a reason many of them are in alternative school but if they use their newly developed skills to build a great future for themselves I'm all for it. This should be expanded to other schools alternative or otherwise.
The students at Banner Academy in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood are all former dropouts, but they’re also aspiring CEOs.

This alternative Chicago Public Schools program is built around entrepreneurship, allowing students to catch up on credits by developing their own small businesses. The products are even sold at a storefront the school rents in the neighborhood.

This focus on job skills is just what school officials have said they’d like to see in all alternative schools after an internal audit found widespread attendance and performance problems at many of these schools.

The city has had full-day alternative schools for decades, but many of the city’s newest schools for dropouts require students to come only half the school day, and most of the work is done online. This more flexible design was meant to help lure students back.

But many educators don’t agree with this approach. Flavian Prince, the vice president of education at Banner Academy, called it “institutional racism.”

“Nobody else would create these types of schools for any group of people in this country,” Prince said, adding that dropouts, most of them black and Latino, need more than just a half day of school on the computer. “Nobody would want this for their own kids. Yet, it becomes a policy.”
The last two paragraphs likely explains why Banner Academy is choosing their entrepreneurship approach. Here's a story of one of the students why she's at Banner and what she's doing?
Becky Vevea/WBEZ
Bianca Wiggins said she dropped out of Crane Medical Prep High School last year after she stopped going to class.

“I had all F’s,” she said. “It was a struggle because it was a medical school and medical didn’t really interest me. Now, I get all A’s.”

Wiggins said she enrolled last fall with just 11 of the 24 credits she needed to graduate. Now, she said she’s on track to graduate in June.

She started a smoothie company called The Player’s Blend and runs it out of the school cafe during lunch and after school.

She rattled off her flavors and prices next to a poster she designed in the school’s production lab. The business plan and pricing structure was built into the courses she needed to graduate.
You know this lets me know we need to change the model of public education. Of course no system can entirely satisfy everyone, but it's necessary. This Mzuzi store on the west side is one possibly way to get students interested in school. Perhaps more hands-on training when it comes to running a business.

Becky Vevea/WBEZ

BTW, back when attending high school - GO FALCONS! - I was briefly involved with an entrepreneurship club. One problem was that I had little concept of the type of business to run and no tools. My first thought was a computer based business - especially printing or something newsy - but I had no late 90s capable computer at home. And we didn't even have a printer.

Back then I was never certain about my direction and everyone else had their own expectations - especially by some fluke due to my grades it was expected I'd do well in college. If I had followed my own instinct back then instead of just falling into and out of everyone's expectations. Then again back then I just didn't know and wasn't trying to catch up.

I'm very glad these students who have the dropout strike against them will have an opportunity to continue developing themselves skill wise. At least my god-given skill has been writing.

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