On Wednesday, August 24 the Vilar Performing Arts Center packed the house with eager educators, parents, and community members all interested and engaged in education. The evening began with a report from the Colorado Children’s Campaign followed by cocktails and a presentation by documentary filmmaker and education activist, Bob Compton.
Each year the Colorado Children’s Campaign releases the KIDS COUNT report. This report provides information on factors that are impacting our children in Eagle County and throughout Colorado. A few facts from the report include:
- The number of kids living in poverty has been growing faster in Colorado than anywhere else in the nation.
- The gap between kids in Colorado who are proficient in math and reading is significant and growing, and consistently exists along racial, ethnic and economic lines. In fact, 30 percent fewer low-income and minority students are proficient in reading and math than their more affluent, white peers.
- In the Eagle County, approximately 20 percent of kids don’t graduate from high school.
The report points out that these facts translate into great losses for and their community as well as for our economy.
- High school graduates earn between $200,000 and $350,000 more than high school dropouts over the course of their lifetime.
- If all of Colorado’s high school dropouts instead graduated from school, $4.2 billion would be added to the state’s economy every year.
Following the report by the Colorado Children’s Campaign, the Vail Valley Foundation was lucky to host and spend an evening discussing the state of education in Eagle County, Colorado, and the nation with Bob Compton. The night began with a review of the report and discussion of Colorado’s education status followed by an explanation of each of his films, 2 Million Minutes and The Finland Phenomenon.
The premise of Two Million Minutes is that regardless of nationality, as soon as a student completes the 8th grade, the clock starts ticking. From that very moment the child has approximately two million minutes to build their intellectual foundation until high school graduation.
How do most American high school students spend this time as opposed to students in the rest of the world? How do family, friends and society influence a student's choices for time allocation and what implications do their choices have on their future and on a country's economic future?
The film takes a deeper look at how the three superpowers of the 21st Century, China, India and the United States, are preparing their students for the future. It follows two students, a boy and a girl, from each of these countries, composing a global snapshot of education from the viewpoint of kids preparing for their future.
Finland's education system has consistently ranked among the best in the world for more than a decade. The question is, why Finland? Compton, along with Harvard researcher, Dr. Tony Wagner, decided to find out and the result of their research is captured in "The Finland Phenomenon.”
The film guides the viewer through an inside look at the world’s finest secondary education system. From within classrooms and through interviews with students, teachers, parents, administrators and government officials, Wagner reveals the surprising factors accounting for Finland's rank as the #1 education system in the world.
Below are a few testimonials from event attendees:
“Bob was able to adequately debunk that myth that US students are more well-rounded. It was amazing to see the foreign student activities.”
“Our system for developing the teachers is not working. Finland seems to get it right by promoting the teaching profession. Most teachers are MBAs and spend their early years with a mentor.”
“Wow. Bob’s vote for best school is in Tucson AZ? How can we use this charter school as a symbol of excellence and promote their methods in the broader school system.”
“Financial resources do not seem to be the issue. While most schools are adequately funded, the performance of the schools is not where it needs to be.”
The education team at the VVF strives to better our community by providing an assortment of programs that help enrich the lives of our children. For more information on our programs visit http://www.vvf.org/vvf/info/education.aspx. Also for more information on the films please visit http://www.2mminutes.com/.