i caught a headline from the front page of the ny times on my way back into the city today and it read: "The College Dropout Boom." the article details the experiences of one man who dropped out after his freshman year and explores some of the reasons for the growing disparity between students from differing economic backgrounds. according to this article, for "many low-income teenagers...whatever the reasons, college just does not feel normal."

a few hours later, in my gmail, i received a message from the bill & melinda gates foundation. the message was announcing a new joint effort between mtv and the foundation - it was only a matter of time, i suppose - and the message headline read: "MTV and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Announce New Joint Effort to Empower Young People to Graduate from High School Ready for College" citing a telephone poll, conducted by cbs of 1586 young people 14-to-24 years old, the message offers the following observation about the ambition-gap situation:

Ambition: According to the poll conducted by CBS News on behalf of MTV, the Gates Foundation, and the NGA, 76 percent of all young people see a college degree as necessary for getting ahead in life.
Gap: According to a 2005 report from the Manhattan Institute, only 32 percent of American high school students will graduate from high school with the skills they need to succeed in college or work.
Ambition: The new poll indicates that 87 percent of all young people across all races and income levels say they would like to get a degree from a 4-year college.
Gap: According to a 2004 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, only 30 percent of 25-29- year-olds have earned a college degree, including only 17 percent of African Americans and 11 percent of Hispanics.

something must be amiss. who is getting it right? the folks that the ny times talked to? or the cbs poll? for whom is a college degree part of a possible future and for whom is it just not normal?

regardless of whether or not to go to college, one thing seems clear: high school is not the place where young people are getting the bulk of the education they need to navigate the world beyond the school walls.

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