I came across some shocking data that stated, according to the California Department of Education, last year less than 29% of our district’s seniors graduated eligible for entrance into a UC or CSU school although 97% of our students graduated.
Not only does this speak to UC and CSU enrollment policies, it also shows these students regardless of those policies have a choice to make. So, the question became, how can we incentivize more students to pursue excellence, whether or not they decide to attend a State University? Pass out cash to everyone who does well? Maybe, if we’d like the State to stay in control of our district forever. But what if students were able to improve their credit rating based off of their academic achievements?
I had an interesting conversation with some family and friends about how more 18-34 year olds or “Millennials” are either interested in becoming an entrepreneur and/or already taking steps to do so.
Based on a study from the Kauffman Foundation, “…polls point out specific barriers to entrepreneurship, including the inability to access capital needed to get a business going, lack of knowledge needed to run a small business, concerns with overcoming current debt burdens, and few mentors from whom they can learn from. In fact, 65 percent of young people think that making it easier to start a business should be a priority for Congress, with 41 percent saying it should be a top priority. Eighty-three percent of Millennials believe that Congress should, at a minimum, increase the availability of startup loans.”
If 30% of our students are moving on to 4-year colleges, that means at least 65% of our students are either going to junior college, attending trade schools, immediately joining the workforce right out of high school, or attempting to start their own businesses. Attending these schools often require financial aid in the form of student loans. Many students shy away from student loans because of the horror stories they’ve learned from others who are smothered in debt. Starting a business also requires startup capital and a solid credit history. Unfortunately, recent high school graduates typically have yet to establish a credit history and have to start from the bottom, making it nearly impossible to establish a business right out of high school to generate income for themselves.
Often in our communities, due to a lack of financial literacy, parents mismanage funds and ruin their credit history before they are able to establish a business or purchase a home, and result in using their child’s name and social security number to get utilities, cable, and or lines of credit. And most of the time, parents never get an opportunity to pay off the debt before their child graduates high school. The child is then punished with a poor credit rating before they are even old enough to establish it for themselves. This contributes to the disadvantage African Americans and Latinos face as young adults, starting off in life.
What could prevent this from happening?
Schools already distribute a credit for passing classes, which accumulates, and based on the total number of credits earned, a student is then eligible for graduation. What if schools awarded individuals who achieve a B or higher credit bonuses that accumulate in the same way, and results in a 660-690 credit score for graduating seniors?
For one, this could create a worthy incentive for students to achieve more during their high school careers, and result in higher percentages of graduation, and eligibility for UC and Cal State enrollment.
If students decided to forego college and instead become entrepreneurs, their credit rating is decent enough to begin applying for start-up loans and business credit cards. If a student desired to enter the workforce, they could do so, and find it easier to find an apartment of their own and begin their adult lives.
As optimistic as this sounds, the preliminary work would obviously be as difficult as convincing Republicans Obamacare is actually a good thing. A curriculum would have to be created that teaches students what credit actually is, why it’s important, and why students should strive to ensure they establish a healthy line of credit.
In addition, districts would need to implement into the curriculum, entrepreneurial courses that allow students to create co-operatives of their own and pilot them in the community. The curriculum would train student how to function in the work force, from executive levels to physical labor. Piloting student run co-operatives would also instill the communal spirit and foster the desire to give back to the community that gave them their first real job.
Mayor James Butts during the MLK celebration earlier this year said something that I thought was right on time. He said that this city is going to move forward by creating high-tech industry, through forward thinking and innovation, to create a future for our children. I couldn’t agree more.
It’s going to take ideas, that not only generate revenue for our city, but ideas that enhance the intellectual capacity of our children, challenge the status quo, dispel cultural stereotypes, and build strong community leadership from top to bottom, bottom to top, and inside out.
For more Inglewood “On The Positive Side,” visit www.inglewoodtoday.com.