There is no more common lament in corporate C-suites than the sorry state of the American education system. Our next generation is said to be woefully unprepared for the economy of the future, while other countries steam ahead, producing engineers and scientists. In response, companies from
Controversy looms over the Philly school, as it does over all corporate-education efforts: Whose interests are being served? Is producing mini-Microsofties and Citigroupians an appropriate goal for our schools? Mary Cullinane, director of Microsoft's U.S. Partners in Learning program, acknowledges that "[our] interest in education is very much a vested interest." Yet with high-school graduation rates running below 50% in some places, can schools afford not to take whatever help is offered?
But something else is happening, too, among America's youth: an unprecedented blossoming of entrepreneurship. A few months back, we profiled Mark Zuckerberg, the 23-year-old CEO who founded social-networking site Facebook, turned down a $1 billion takeover bid from
The C-suiters are right: Nothing is more important than the fate of our kids. So how best can we nurture them? Microsoft has one program, Harvard has another, and Qualls has her own. Is that diversity good for our future, or do we need a more unified approach? These may be questions without answers, but they are worth asking. I hope you'll share your thoughts with us (firstname.lastname@example.org) as we try to advance the dialogue.
A version of this article appeared in the September 2007 issue of Fast Company magazine.