How To Motivate A 12 Year Old Boy In School A Lost Generation of Youth

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A Lost Generation of Youth

The Department of Labor funds a number of programs aimed at young people, ages 12 to 25. The purpose of these programs includes youth development and employability and vocational skills training in a number of different forums. However, it is my recommendation that the US federal government do a better job of reviewing its programs and analyzing community needs. Programs that are needed and those that prove successful are not funded or reimbursed due to budget cuts and appropriations for other federal programs. I suggest that the federal government provide more support to youth programs and schools in economically disadvantaged areas.

Secretary Chao announced a $20 million grant to the National Urban League to continue and expand the Urban Youth Empowerment Program. “The income and self-esteem that come with success in business are critical for young people trying to turn their lives around,” Chao said. “With this $20 million grant, we are tripling the commitment to the President’s Urban Youth Empowerment Program to help at-risk youth prepare for full-time employment. A significant portion of this grant will help young people in New Orleans and other areas that have been hit by last year’s hurricanes.”

In 2004, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration awarded $9.2 million to the National Urban League to design and implement a national model program for 16- to 24-year-old youth. Partnering with faith-based and community-based organizations, Urban League affiliate sites provide youth career-focused employability skills, paid internships and on-the-job training to help participants enter full-time employment in the private sector. I applaud Secretary Chao and First Lady Laura Bush for making this initiative a priority, however there is still a greater need.

While it may seem like the federal government is putting money toward programs, they could be doing more. In the spring of 2000, the Department of Labor awarded its first 36 Youth Opportunity Grants to youth living in empowerment zones, enterprise zones, and other impoverished urban and rural areas. This five-year initiative aims to target areas of high poverty to expand employment opportunities for youth. During this five-year term, the Department of Labor has committed to distribute $250 million to these 36 cities in need. Most of those 36 cities had programs that proved to be successful, so the question arises, how come the Ministry of Labor did not refund those programs?

The model I recommend is the federally funded Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP). GEAR UP’s primary initiative is to bring youth to secondary education. GEAR UP is a discretionary grant program designed to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in post-secondary education. GEAR UP provides six-year grants to states and partnerships to provide services in high-poverty middle and high schools. GEAR UP grant recipients serve an entire group of students starting in seventh grade at the latest and follow the cohort through high school. GEAR UP funds are also used to provide scholarships for low-income students. Programs like GEAR UP are a true reflection of serving the needs of the community.

To improve GEAR UP, I recommend that this program work with out-of-school populations as well as in-school populations. There are many young people who are getting their GED and can use their services. This program could also be improved by educating young people about educational opportunities in technical schools and entrepreneurship, as well as colleges and universities. Business involvement is critical to a teenager’s long-term success. At-risk students often need more than their school counselors or teachers can give them. What they need is the real perspective of adults, especially those in business (Laabs, 2004). This program could be an ideal program if they included more business engagement and alternative education in their program.

The National Network for Youth Advocates is committed to educating and encouraging policymakers to be active in recognizing, protecting, and enhancing the value of youth to the nation. I agree with them; however, programs can survive with private sector funding. With the cooperation of community organizations and private grants, youth programs could exist without help from the federal government. Policy makers seem to have too much power in making decisions about young people and their development. Thus, private organizations could contribute and build programs without the constraints of the federal government and address the needs of youth in their communities.

The ideal model for a youth program would be for funding to come from several different sources. It would be appropriate to use federal, state and private sector money for an ideal model. When one source gets low or exhausted, the other will pick up the difference to continue funding. However, three different sources of income do not mean three different sets of rules and outcomes. The program will adhere to one set of outcomes that will be sufficient for all three actors. The financing of the private sector will consist of cooperation with various entities that contribute to the funds. The ideal model will have an internal and external auditor to maintain program compliance. The ideal model will also have a grant writing team; this team will be responsible for researching and obtaining new grants for program sustainability.

An ideal model will include leadership skills for all participants; it is vital that participants possess these skills to succeed throughout their lives. The ideal model will include such skills as trust, communication and being a visionary leader.

Participants will learn that trust is an important characteristic of leadership. They must earn the trust of their co-workers, supervisors and future employees. Once trust is established, employees will continue to work hard day after day. Without trust, the process will more than likely be held up beyond the expected time frame. People trust others who they know authentically and who have their best interests at heart (Pearce, 2003). Participants will realize this by establishing this trust; they will have employees who will work hard for them.

Communication is an important leadership trait that every good leader must have and be able to use effectively. Participants will be encouraged to develop their own leadership style and learn the best way to communicate with others. Pearce (2003) stated that if leaders recognized their automatic emotional responses, they could actually adjust their communication to be more appropriate, less demanding, and more inspiring. Participants will be encouraged to think a little about how they interact with other people. They will need to be diligent in recognizing their weaknesses and willing to work to overcome them in order to be effective communicators. Heifetz (2003) believed that people must begin to face the choices and challenges they face. By overcoming their challenges and weaknesses, participants develop strong leadership skills.

The ideal model will teach participants to look into the future and visualize what they can become and what they will achieve. Being a visionary is worth the risk because the goals extend beyond material gain or personal improvement. By making the lives of people around them better, leadership gives meaning to life (Heifetz & Linsky, 2002). Participants will learn what it means to be a visionary and that vision starts from within. It grows out of their past and the history of the people around them. In addition, their vision goes beyond themselves and how they could serve others to impact the lives of others.

The process of developing the ideal model will begin with the cooperation of experts in the field of youth development. The collaboration will set a five-year plan for the program. The plan will consist of program funding and sustainability; programmatic outcomes, policy and procedures; community involvement; and the target population. An ideal model will have consistent follow-up with participants at 1-, 3-, and 6-month intervals to ensure success. Some programs emphasize a disciplinary orientation, and others focus on developing an innovative program that seeks to meet the unique educational needs of students (Lehr & Lange, 2003). An ideal program will be unique because it will address the specific issues of the target population and their needs.

The process will also include the provision of comprehensive services for participants. Providing such a service will enable the program to meet the true needs of the participants. Previous research (Carney & Buttell, 2003) has suggested that comprehensive services provide the necessary support for young people to enable them to develop appropriate skills. Juvenile delinquents who received comprehensive services compared to those who received conventional services (eg, counseling, addiction treatment, tutoring) were less likely to miss school, less likely to be suspended from school, less likely to run away from home, less combative, less likely to be picked up by the police and more likely to have a job (Carney & Buttell, 2003). An ideal program will be able to extend its assistance to participants by providing comprehensive services.

Finally, it is necessary to include all interested parties in the process of developing the ideal model. Over time, stakeholders create an upward spiral of confidence and courage, resulting in positive and successful student achievement (Covey, Merrill, & Merrill, 2003). One of the key actors are parents and their influence on the lives of their children. The ideal model will interact and involve parent participants at every level. Previous research has suggested that parental involvement is one of the key factors in alternative education students persisting in school and attaining a high school diploma or a general education diploma (May & Copeland, 1998).

Educators, policy makers, and researchers are regularly confronted with claims about the effectiveness of various educational programs and policies intended to help improve children’s achievement (Slavin, Fshola, & Normore, 2000). However, they do not take into account all young people from different geographical, economic and social backgrounds. The main goal of an ideal program is to create opportunities for participants that would otherwise not be available to them.

References

Carney, MM, & Buttell, F. (2003). Reducing Juvenile Recidivism: An Evaluation of the Wraparound Services Model. Social Work Practice Research, 13, 551-568.

Covey, SR, Merrill, AR, & Merrill, RR (2003). Let’s go in order. New York: The Free Press.

Heifetz, R. (2003). Leadership without easy answers. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Heifetz, R., & Linsky, M. (2002). Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Perils of Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School.

Laabs, JJ (2004. Disadvantaged teenagers work toward a better future. Personnel Journal, 73(12), 34-40.

Lehr, CA, & Lange, GM (2003). Alternative schools serving students with and without disabilities: What are the current issues and challenges? Prevention of school failure, 47(2), 59-65.

May, HE, & Copeland, EP (1998). Academic persistence and alternative high schools: Student characteristics and locations. High School Journal, 81, 199-209.

Pearce, T. (2003). Leading Out Loud: Inspiring Change Through Authentic Communication. San Francisco: Jossey Bass.

Slavin, R., Fashola, O., & Normore, AH (2000). Show me the evidence! Proven and promising programs for American schools. Canadian Journal of Education, 25(2), 21-24.

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