America is blessed with an abundance of talent, resources, and social standing yet our education system always seems behind other industrial nations. Why is that? We are constantly telling one another to focus on the future; that our future is strong, that it will be better. How can it be better when our children, who are tomorrow’s adults, our future, are dropping out of school at a rate of 1 every 26 seconds?
Why is it that we increase funding for the military, jails, drug and alcohol treatments; all the while we continue to cut the education budget? Kids who are losing interest in school are the ones ending up drinking, abusing others and ending up in jail . We, as a country have the highest inmate population in the world. Why is that we are o.k with spending millions upon millions of dollars on treatments, we could very easily save ourselves few millions of dollars by focusing on preventive measures through education at an early age. Recent statistics showed that we spend on an average between $7,000-13,500 per student in the public education system, while we spend $35,000 per inmate in the jail. What’s wrong with this picture?
Being an advocate for children’s education, my investigative questioning about this deeply rooted problem soon turned into filming a documentary. I was a little hesitant at first, but I wanted to know where was the problem and how we can fix it …and fix we can, the question is…do we want to? I began shooting this documentary a couple of years ago and it is nearing completion. Click on the picture and watch the clip. Let me know your thoughts.
After attending the Dropout Prevention Summit at The Tiger Woods Learning Center back in February, I couldn’t resist going back and having the Vice President & Executive Director, Dr. Katherine E. Bihr, ED.D. join our gang. We just concluded the filming, we actually did the original filming last month, but for some reason the tape was bad, so we had to re-do it again. Kathy spoke about her difficulties as a kid in school because she was shy. She explained how she would make excuses to avoid going to school and how she overcame all those obstacles, learned to be comfortable in her own skin and take risks. Kathy shared some insight on ways to be successful and she came to be the Vice President of The Tiger Woods Learning Center. She also talks about the importance of exploring different methods of education. Kathy’s intriguing video will be uploaded soon. Be sure to look out for it.
Have a safe Memorial Day weekend and remember the men and women in uniforms who sacrifice their life everyday.
After so many years of working to develop better programs to empower and inspire kids about their education, we finally made an excellent connection. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s America’s Promise is dedicated to reducing the high school dropout rates in this country and as part of their alliance we are proud to expand on their work.
Yesterday I attended the Dropout Prevention Summit at the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, an incredible learning center, one that incorporates all the modern technologies in teaching-a cutting-edge model that many schools should aspire to.
Teachers, administrators and parents were feeling very frustrated by the recent budget cuts-especially considering the fact that India is surpassing the United States in graduates by 1 million and China’s graduation rate is double ours. Just saying you care about the education of kids is not enough, it’s time for action.
It was very uplifting to hear so many members of the community-judges, politicians and business owners express passionate thoughts and ideas about turning the tide on the dropout rate.
Of the top five reasons cited by kids for dropping out, number one was boredom, and the second reason was lack of positive role models and mentors. The question of the day was: with a lack of financial resources, how can teachers adopt innovative programs to maintain student’s interest and instill the importance of staying in school for their future?
What are your thoughts on this?
On my trip to Las Vegas last weekend, I caught up with Tony Maiden- known as the guitarist and singer for “Rufus/Chaka Khan. A Grammy-award winning musician, Tony has performed with a list of greats in the music industry that is far too long to include here. I also had a chance to meet his daughter Gabby Maiden-the first professional African-American female snowboarder at the 2009 Snowsports Industries AmericaTradeshow. Both father and daughter paid a high price for success on their respective paths, but the common thread between them is the focus and passion they share for what they do. Tune in for more on the life of this musical genius and to hear Gabby’s uplifting outlook on life and powerful message for the next generation.
[media id=5] [media id=4]
I am just leaving for Las Vegas where I will be filming 2 amazing role models from totally different careers, more on that later..I just had the pleasure of interviewing not one, but two mentors-the world famous ballerina/master ballet instructor Nadezhda(Nadya) Koscuik and her dancer/choreographer husband Golden Koscuik at their Westwood, California studio. I learned of their ascension to the top of the ballet world and of their strong commitment to helping aspiring dancers, which I discovered, stems from Nadya’s experience being mentored by the legendary Rudolph Nureyev and the mentoring Golden received from the prolific John Barrymore. Look for upcoming coverage of the full interview on this exciting couple, so you can find out about Nadya’s book, Golden’s “other” career that helped finance his dance training, how they are making an enormous impact by giving back to the community, and much more.
No matter what your dream career is, their story proves that no matter when you start, you can achieve anything if you are willing to work for it.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the LA Art show at the Los Angeles Convention Centre. Also an awards ceremony was held, honoring the brilliant works of artists such as: Billy Al Bengston, Larry Bell, Howard Bingham, Ed Moses, Betty Saar, Julius Shulmanmet and Barbara Lazaroff co-founder of the Wolfgang Puck empire. Among these artists was Mr. John Amos a talented actor, known for his work in movies like Die Hard 2, and TV show – Good Times, where the term ‘Dynamite’ was made famous. His work extends to perfomances in Roots, The West Wing, Men in Trees and so much more, than can be mentioned here. In less than 24 hours, I had captured John Amos’s journey to success, on video for gangofhope.com. I found him to be an articulate, insightful, big hearted and a humble man. You will so enjoy his video.
John is so passionate about empowering and inspiring today’s youth towards success, that as soon as I asked him if he would be interested in joining my gang, he said “YES.” He also has his own non profit organization dedicated to helping kids.
Within the next week or so, you will have the opportunity to hear his story - and what a story it is! As a child being pushed to the back of the train because of the color of his skin, to winning more TV Land Awards than anyone. And, if that wasn’t enough, taking home trophies for his roles on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Good Times and the TV miniseries Roots.
This seems to be a busy week for me, with another video interview coming up this Wednesday. Then, on Thursday, I am off with my crew to Las Vegas to capture 3… that’s right, not one positive role model, but 3… stay tuned and you’ll find out who they are.
Thank you John for your passion and dedication!
A day in history where you will always remember where you were, when it happened. The inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama, the 44th President of the United States of America. America stands for possibilities! You don’t have to look far to see the truth in that. Only a day after the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s life, Obama fulfilled a dream of a lifetime.
It is no miracle that Obama became the President as he, like all of us, was born with all the tools to fulfill his purpose on earth. He was lucky enough to have supportive people around him, to encourage his passions and dreams for life. This, in concert, with his tenacity to go for it!
Dreams do come true - and it may take years or decades - but hard work, dedication and passion, can turn them into reality. ‘Only in America’, where you are offered possibilities beyond all measure. The only thing that can stand in your way to success is YOU!
Anyone can aspire to be, so how badly do you want it? Be very sure of what your purpose is, and if you’re not sure, just define how your dream will influence change for mankind, small or large. It all starts with you!