Stop the Drain - Stop Teaching Students to Work for Others

Save our schools and communities. Grow our economy. What are we to do?

The best way to accelerate our job creation rate is to embrace and support policies in all levels of the political spectrum that encourage entrepreneurs. We believe rural schools and communities can be saved and economies can grow by teaching young people they don’t have to work for a big company or for other people. Teach students that owning their own business is a great win-win strategy to grow the local economy! 

This isn't just a school’s issue. For rural towns and cities, it's an issue of community survival.

Our country is really run and dominated by small- and medium-sized businesses. Ninety-eight percent of your community’s new jobs are created by businesses you see on your Main Street, home- based businesses that are a part of your town’s hidden economy, and all your existing businesses you count on to meet your needs. Only 2% of all new jobs are created by companies recruited to your community.

For more than 30 years, I have worked with communities on many different levels, much of that time in very rural areas. I've watched communities spend many thousands of dollars to “steal” companies from other towns, creating a neutral net gain of jobs in the economy. Many of those companies, after they have used up their tax advantages from relocating, will look elsewhere to gain more tax advantages and their loyalty to that community ends as soon as they receive a better deal.

Our focus is teaching our young people from a very early age that an alternative of working for someone else is creating your own business and products.

The bottom line is that if we really want to make a difference in our economy and grow our towns, we should focus on entrepreneurship in our schools. 

Encourage people to dream and help talented individuals start companies that create business models that grow small-, medium-, big-sized, sustainable organizations. We need to encourage students to create local jobs by owning local businesses. And support them to grow regionally and globally.

We need entrepreneurship schools that give students alternative curriculum that teaches the components of business planning and use their youthful creativity to design the future.

Create curriculum that engages youth to develop as local leaders, energizes them through entrepreneurship and business growth, and teaches the importance of giving back through local charitable giving.

 We have a culture of taking inventions to market,. That takes an entrepreneur.

It appears to me that we have been losing that part of our creative business cycle. Many community businesses are third-generation owners, passed down in families, leading to many of our communities and leaders losing their entrepreneurial culture, innovation, and drive.

Entrepreneurs are those who usually start businesses, but another benefit of teaching entrepreneurship in school is teaching the concept of “intrapreneurship.” Intrapreneurs work inside companies and are the brains and energy behind creating customers.

An entrepreneur/intrapreneur will create business models that will identify more customers and create innovative ways to address commercial and social concerns.

Many of our towns are losing population. Schools are losing enrollment, and budgets are shrinking. We can turn around this trend by giving our youth an alternative to working for others and an alternative of having to move away to get a good job. That alternative is owning their own business and locating in the town where they are educated. Imagine a school in your town that incubates business ideas and business models that will spin out to locate on Main Street or can be run from a home using the community’s local technology, contributing to and growing your local tax base! You need to take responsibility in your community to create the environment for jobs to be created. Government can assist but cannot do it alone.

Gallup identified the reason students drop out of school and disengage in education, they have lost all hope in graduating. They cannot see how the education they are getting will lead them to where they want to go. Students will engage in their education when they see how it will provide them with a good job and a chance for a good life. For many, it is giving them hope that their good job will be created by their own creativity and the realization that they can own their own business.

Innovation itself doesn't create sales. The entrepreneur is the connector, the person who envisions a valuable product or concept and its customer, and then creates a business model and strategy that creates sales and profit.

Entrepreneurship is a long-term commitment that needs the support of the local community, local school district, coupled with state policy support. Clifton states, “If you were to ask me, from all of Gallup’s data and research on entrepreneurship, what will most likely tell you if you are winning or losing your city, my answer would be, ‘5th-12th-graders’ image of and relationship to free enterprise and entrepreneurship.’ If your city doesn't have growing economic energy in your 5th-12th-graders, you will experience neither job creation, nor city GDP growth.”

Entrepreneurship schools in our education system is a must and needs to be a supported strategy by leadership on all policy levels for our healthy, growing, successful future.