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on Leading the Next Generation


The Problem is Us (A Re-post)

Sometimes I get misunderstand as a guy who’s against kids. Since publishing my latest book, Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save heir Future, some think I whine about how this generation of students are undisciplined and feel entitled.

Actually, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I love this generation of students. But they’re in trouble. More than you may think. According to Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of the Washington D.C. public school system, “The truth is, despite a handful of reforms, the state of American education is pitiful and it’s getting worse. Spending in school has more than doubled in the last three decades, but the increased resources haven’t produced better results. The U.S. is currently 21st, 23rd and 25th among 30 developed nations in science, reading and math, respectively. The children in our schools today will be the first generation of Americans who will be less educated than the previous generation.”[i]

Ugh. It’s both sad and unnecessary. So what’s the problem? Why are 3 of every 10 students dropping out of high school?  I have an educated guess.

– They’re not necessarily stupid.
– They’re not necessarily bad.
– They’re not necessarily troubled.

They are bored and have disengaged teachers. Not all of them. Many teachers today are fabulous and are my heroes. But far too many moan about the need for “student engagement” when they’re the ones that need to re-engage.

So, how can so many bad teachers be teaching? It’s simple. It’s the only industry I know where you can perform poorly and keep your job. One of the key problems in American education today: “tenure.” It’s all about job security. Even if you’re a pitifully unproductive teacher—you get to stay in front of the class. So, if the bad teacher won’t leave…the students do.  By the millions each year. The new chapter president in D.C. Teacher’s Union said his top priority: job security for teachers. You see—education is not about the kids. It’s about the adults. That’s a crime.

When I sound the alarm on “Generation iY” I’m not whining about the students. Quite the opposite. I’m challenging parents, teachers, coaches and youth workers to re-engage in our most important task—preparing our kids to lead the way into the future.

What are some steps we can take?  Here are a few.

1.     Join us as we engage in this challenge. You can give on-line at: to help support and provide resources to underprivileged schools and organizations who have the desire to develop students but not the resources to do so.

2.     Check out Michelle Rhee’s campaign: Students First. (She’s formed a lobbying group to counter the special interests that have hurt graduation rates.)

3.     Read and pass on our latest book, Generation iY—Our Last Chance to Save Their Future. Just go to:

Let’s act now. Let’s solve this problem by first admitting: the problem is us.



  1. InspectorClouseau on March 16, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Do you really want to know what is wrong with the American education system? It’s the parents, and the conditions which exist in the homes of the children. The parents have roughly 5-6 years to mold the values, curiosity, personalities, and attitudes of the children. More parents are disillusioned, have more economic difficulties to address personally, and thus do not have as much energy or time as parents in the past to deal with the issues affecting their children. People change when they are sufficiently motivated to change. With so many unmotivated parents out there, why should we expect the kids to be motivated? By the time they reach grade school, they are complicated human beings and the education professionals are faced with major challenges.

    • David Ethm Kwon on March 16, 2011 at 9:39 pm

      The environment these kids and their parents are in is definitely a HUGE thing that needs to be constantly addressed, definitely. I tutor low-income families at their homes and I’ve encountered some crazy living situations and am surprised at how the kids can be so bright and the parents so caring and dedicated despite all that. One of my friends is also technically homeless and raising two kids, and those two kids are doing well in school but they have to live in so many different environments because my friend has to move from place to place all the time due to their financial situation. I definitely also can understand when I see how distressed and tired they are sometimes. Even if we fire all the bad teachers and hire only the best teachers, the American education system will still be lackluster in a lot of ways. The country needs restructuring, and more focus on the health and development of communities and its working people.

      Right now, Congress is talking about totally cutting funding to something like AmeriCorps. Yes, maybe that action will save you some money in the short-run but cutting out support network systems like that, and in the long run, American families in suffer and as a consequence, so will the children in those homes.

      • InspectorClouseau on March 17, 2011 at 5:27 am

        You’re right on the money David. The deterioration in our way of life has been going on for roughly 25 – 30 years now, if not longer, and folks are arguing as if it is some recent occurrence.

  2. David Ethm Kwon on March 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    The problem is EVERYTHING right now, a time when a state has decided to build more prisons instead of schools because of the reasoning that many kids will end up there anyway, still a time where the teaching profession is so wary of any reforms, and especially a time in which important social support structures are about to or are actually getting their fundings cut. Everything is interrelated to the future of our children’s education and the more we fail to see it, the worse it will get.

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The Problem is Us (A Re-post)