Bob Wise, "High Schools at the Tipping Point"
But it's not going to be a political solution that saves our schools. Perhaps it is politically incorrect to say that the fix we're looking for is incorrectly political.
It's going to be us, Strength in Numbers Tutoring, and other grassroots nonprofits like Communities in School, that do something to fix our broken schools, watching and working alongside our students as their competitiveness increases.
At least for Strength in Numbers Tutoring, we are summoning the activist will to bring about actual change.
Our mission is to enhance the academic, career and financial opportunities of high school students by helping them obtain a "strength in numbers" for themselves. We're not waiting for legislation. We are simply helping change the outcomes from bleak to better, for one student at a time.
It is not going to be fast or easy. It's not flashy. We are not promising massive results with the stroke of a legislative vote or a presidential signature.
The hard work is like this.
First the problem: nearly every high school student could use some extra help in math, and many of those students will see limited academic and career opportunities because they simply do not have strength in numbers. Not getting that extra help puts - or keeps - them on the pathetic path toward mediocrity in schooling and in their working careers.
And now the solution: we provide that extra help. We help one student at a time. We tutor a 9th grade boy struggling in Math 1 on his homework. We teach a young lady approaching graduation how to do mental math. We remediate a middle school student by helping him actually learn the times tables.
One student at a time, one tutoring session at a time. Can you imagine teaching a 16-year-old taking algebra how to do binomial multiplication? Can you imagine teaching integers operations or exponential expressions to a 6th grader?
We can - and we are actually doing it. We're good at it and we love doing it, too.
So that's the hard work. We sit with a student in need of extra help, one tutoring session at a time, teaching one concept at a time until we have helped move the needle for that student. Long-term results are notoriously hard to pin down, but we have seen immediate gains in students' understanding growing, and maybe more importantly seeing their confidence growing.
As a math tutor of 20+ years, I have seen students from 9th graders to seniors who do not have a basic mastery of foundational math skills. I cringe when I think of the opportunities they will miss because they do not have basic math skills.
But it is those students who stand to gain the most from tutoring. So we push every student to work hard, and when they fail, to help them learn from their mistake and then try again. Every new skill mastered, every additional math concept that a student grasps moves the needle for him or her toward better outcomes in school and in life after graduation.
So, you and I and Bob Wise, yes all of us here in the United States have a choice: are we going to wait and hope for the promise of a political proposal or will we invest in action taking place right here in our own community?
We invite you to join us as we work toward seeing our vision becoming a reality.
Mark B. Anderson
Tutor & Founder, Strength in Numbers Tutoring
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