Tutor/Mentor Connection

Connect knowledge, volunteers, youth and make a difference.

The President's Address, School Reform, and Getting Youth to Careers

“Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.
But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.
It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it.”

Last night, President Obama made his first State of the Union Address in which he discussed several crucial issues affecting America that he intends to work with both the House and the Senate on. In addition to the plans he outlined on our economy, health care reform, and domestic security, he also detailed some initiatives on education and school reform.

There are two distinct types of school reform. The first affects what and how the student is taught in the classroom, and is related to the school’s subject matter and teaching methods. An example would be increasing the amount of computers in the classroom, expanding concept-based mathematics programs, and stressing multicultural influences in social studies and literature. The second type affects how schools are managed and what roles teachers and administrators play, and is related to school administration and governance procedures. An example would be sharing leadership roles and increasing community involvement programs.

Even though school reform is a complex and thorough issue that has many factors at stake both on a state and national level, education reform can be started by powers from outside the school. Tutor mentor programs across the country are striving to make sure that students succeed on a daily basis. It is important for our tutors and mentors to stay informed in school policy and procedure when reform does occur. This can be simply done by asking questions and staying informed about school policies that may affect a tutor/mentor’s student both inside and outside the classroom. Don’t be intimidated by doing research about the school your tutee or mentee attends like checking out the school’s website or subscribing to the school’s newsletter.

Other ways to stay informed is to take advantage of open meetings and trainings the Tutor Mentor Connection offers. The T/MC web portal has great resources, tips, and strategies for connecting with students listed on its site and blogs. Many school reforms are driven by the idea that students need to be more competitive in order to excel in college and the job market. Our schools provide the education that is needed for students to be productive in the marketplace. Emily Gunn, a fellow intern at Cabrini Connections, is working on expanding the alumni group to help re-connect past students to the program. The general focus of her blogs will be on careers, and she plans to write and link to articles on resume-building, job searching, and interview tips. The point is to share our experiences of Cabrini while also encourage both past and present students to succeed by becoming more effective in pushing our youth towards college and careers. A central goal of the Tutor Mentor Connection is to help youth go through school and enter a job career by the age of 25.

As the African proverb states, “it takes a village to raise a child”. Regardless of whether or not we have the capacity to affect school reform that is inevitable, we can still make a profound positive influence in our students’ lives.

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Comment by E Wilson on January 28, 2010 at 6:44pm
Also, the Collaborative Goals essay that helped inspire this blog is located here:


It lists some of the goals of Tutor Mentor Connection that I referenced.

Comment by Daniel Bassill on January 28, 2010 at 5:29pm

Our goal is that millions of people are engaged in learning, brainstorming, innovation and direct action that results in more kids in high poverty neighborhoods having a support system that helps them learn to learn and helps them expand the networks of people and ideas that they can use to reach jobs and careers, raise their own children free of poverty, and be contributing citizens to the future America.

For that to happen, leaders need to step back and expand their understanding of the problem, and of the potential solutions. To help that process we have created a library with links to many other web sites where people from around the world share their ideas. There are also links to web sites where we share our own ideas. As more people visit these sites, and begin to learn from them, the same way people go through college, or that they go to faith communities each week, there will be greater understanding.

If this is combined with direct service, where people become personally involved with youth and families living in poverty, which happens in programs like Cabrini Connections, then the problems and the people become personal, and understanding leads to greater commitment to the ideas that are learned through the information on our library.

Here's a research link, showing a wealth of ideas that I encourage people to read and reflect on. This is an interactive site, meaning other people can add new ideas as their find them. They can also write articles for the site, sharing the understanding they are building or pointing out the value of some of the different web sites we host.

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