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FedEx Heads to the Classroom

April 6, 2010

Once a year, FedEx Office sends their leadership back to school. Not to learn something new, but to support Teach For America’s corps members and share a lesson based on their experience as business leaders. This week, Brian Philips (CEO), Jeff Heyman (VP), David Buggs (CDO), and Kim Spight (Manager) head to two schools in Dallas, supporting the corporation’s commitment to open doors for students to achieve their dreams and participate in the global economy.

FedEx also supports Teach For America’s effort to grow and diversify their corps. We recently sponsored the Community Speaker Series in New York City, an honest conversation about how to reach a generation of young minority men who are slipping through the cracks of the public school system. I had a chance to interview one of the panelists, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and wanted to share his thoughts:

What do you find most startling about the student dropout rate?
As a father of two young men and the Borough President of 1.4 million Bronxites, I understand the urgency of this issue first hand. Last month, the White House released some startling figures on the issue of student dropout rates across the country. Every school day, approximately 7,000 students decide to drop out of school – a total of 1.2 million students each year. Only 70 percent of entering high school freshman graduate in their cohort each year.

These statistics are even more concerning when you consider only 48 percent of Black males and 49 percent of Latino males complete high school (Green and Winters, 2006). Each year, our nation loses $319 billion in potential earnings associated with the dropout crisis. The crisis facing men of color within our nation’s school systems has reached epidemic proportions.

What did you hear at the Community Speaker Series that resonated most with you?
Dr. Pedro Noguera mentioned how we must be wary of “simple answers.” A singular approach or general response will not suffice in addressing the myriad of issues that make up this problem. The solutions will come from interlocking strategies, reforms, investments and commitments involving our nation’s schools, communities, and families, as well additional investments towards physical, mental and emotional wellness with increased federal and local government support.

Dr. Marc Lamont Hill discussed the emotions of our men of color and how they are often misinterpreted within our current school systems, as well as society at large. The way our men of color are communicated—or mis-communicated—with can often times be the defining moment in whether these men will be disengaged and lost or re-engaged and saved.  We must delve deeply into the emotional states of our young men and nurture them.

Finally, John Legend underscored the need for our school systems to have higher standards, increased opportunities, and a no-tolerance attitude to failure. 

What do you see as next steps following the Community Speaker Series?
We must continue to have open, honest and frequent discussion on this vital topic. We must leave no thought, opinion or strategy left unexplored in our joint pursuit to eradicate the systemic, social-emotional, financial, and educational obstacles that are the root causes behind the continued loss of generations of men of color.  I am honored to be a part of this discussion and will do all I can to help realize the action necessary to eliminate the loss of life, dreams, potential and spirit that has been a plague upon our young men of color for far too long.

Greene, J. and Winters, M. (2006). Leaving Boys Behind: Public High School Graduation Rates. New York: Manhattan Institute.


    Kim Spight says:

    [During Teach For America Week Dallas] we had the opportunity to meet a couple of Teach for America teachers and members of the administrative staff. You could tell that they are very passionate about what they do, and they want to see their students succeed. I began to remember my physics teacher in high school—she was energetic, had a passion for learning and wanted us to succeed. I saw that same passion in the teachers and Teach for America staff I met. Education is so important in all that we do, and high school helps prepare our students for college and the world ahead. I am so proud that FedEx supports such a great organization and the impact we are helping to make on the students will be forever. Who knows, some of the students may become FedEx employees one day, and they will always remember the commitment FedEx had in helping make them successful.

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