January 26, 2011 -- SuperFutures CEO Says Obama Address Shines the Light on Educating Our Youth as Key to “Winning the Future”

Answering the Call to Action and Delivering our “Sputnik Moment”
Jennifer Openshaw, CEO of SuperFutures, nationally known financial commentator and author of The Millionaire Zone (Hyperion), today calls on the White House, parents, educators and entrepreneurs to seize this moment and move one-step forward to making America competitive.
To quote President Obama, “it’s not about sitting here together tonight; it’s about what we do tomorrow.” The following are her comments and responses to key portions of Obama’s address and his roadmap for “Winning the Future”. She is available throughout the day.
Education and the Measure of our Nation’s Success
Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. Yet, nearly 25% of our students are not even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen from first to ninth in the percentage of young people with a college degree. Therefore, the question is whether all of us – as citizens and as parents – are willing to do what is necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.
America will not be successful if we do not help our youth succeed. That means giving them the tools that are not taught in school – and often not even in college. Not just the basics like math and English – but the soft but critical real world tools from how you present yourself on Facebook to how to network to get a job or internship to even how to connect with a fellow Chinese student. Innovation – as the President pointed out – is what America’s youth must be taught – and that’s why SuperFutures created the Passions into Impact program and Impact Awards launching later in the year with Intel, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and others.
If there is one thing left that America is known for – it’s entrepreneurship – from Oprah and Mark Zuckerberg to a little known teen named, John Bray, who’s creating a Karate business for teens, by teens not just for the physical activity, but for confidence-building. With today’s new global world and a workforce who is increasingly forced into starting a business, entrepreneurship and innovation must be a part of education.
Job Creation & China’s Education
For America’s youth, unemployment is well over 20%. Many students are living with Mom and Dad after a college education. Why? Because they are competing not only with better prepared students from China or elsewhere, but also competing with an older, more educated US workforce -- a workforce that understands the meaning of hard work, discipline, and commitment. These are qualities that our youth need to succeed – but there is little room in our curriculum to teach them. One teacher told us: “No one makes the connection between college and the real world; no one makes it relevant like you (SuperFutures).” Making that connection through compelling programs – for all young people -- is otherwise lacking. If we do not make our education relevant and of interest to a young man or woman – based on their personal passions – America and its ability to compete will fail.
A Two-Way Street
The President shouldn’t be in this alone. Every mother and father has a responsibility right now to ensure his or her child can compete. Families are spending tens of thousands on college only to find their teen cannot get a job. Over-worked and under-resourced educators do their best. However, it’s no longer enough just to focus on telling high school students what they should do – without really knowing if it’s the right path for them. Where can students turn for guidance? Not today’s schools, which have just one guidance counselor per 1,000 kids and appear to be failing kids. Unfortunately, with unemployment and the stresses of modern life, they have little time to do it. That is why SuperFutures will be offering free webinars for parents each month.
The President said the future is ours to win. We will only win if we:
• Teach all kids the skills to succeed – including students from middle income families who often fall through the cracks
• Entrepreneurship and innovation is embraced through programs like Passions into Impact
• We bring old fashion discipline and a strong work ethic into the picture as China and others do
• We recognize the challenges parents have today and use them as partners in the process.
• We make the investment needed so higher education is within reach of every American.
So, I ask Congress to make permanent our tuition tax credit – worth $10,000 for four years of college.
Yes, President Obama, America’s future rests with our young people. However, the responsibility lies with us – citizens, legislators, educators, parents and The White House. After all, last time I checked, we were the adults.
About SuperFutures
SuperFutures offers courses, coaching and educational content designed with experts from Harvard to help teens answer: what do I want to be when I grow up and how do I get there today? Courses are designed to turn classroom learning into real world doing and provide youth a stronger foundation as they enter college or the job market.