The high share of unemployed and underemployed young college graduates and the share of employed young college graduates working in jobs that do not require a college degree underscore that the current unemployment crisis among young workers did not arise because today’s young adults lack the right education or skills. Rather, it stems from weak demand for goods and services, which makes it unnecessary for employers to significantly ramp up hiring.
The solutions are ones that are important for adult workers, as well, as follows: Keep interest rates low as the economy strengthens; raise the minimum wage; enforce labor standards and most definitely by providing a path to citizenship for undocumented students.
What I would add to this is that we need to get involved in politics at all levels—local, state, and national—though most particularly at the state and local levels. If we wait for the feds to "save us," that's a long shot. Not that there isn't always also a federal agenda for good policies, but rather that we need a two- or three-part strategy. One engages national, the other state, and a local strategy that is community anchored and organic.
I've written elsewhere on how we need to grow our own teachers instead of outsourcing what amounts to work and opportunity for education management organizations that get our communities' hard-earned tax dollars for an education that is still not about the culturally relevant education that our communities want and need (see this morning's previous post).
Let's start setting up our own indigenous, grassroots institutions that can result in job-creation strategies locally. We need not only to grow our own teachers as I have suggested elsewhere, but we need to grow our own everything—principals, administrators, city council members, arts leaders, business leaders, scientists, architects, and so on. This is an intentional, assets-based framework that draws on the strengths and talents of our communities that through partnerships and the intelligence, wisdom, and experience that resides within to articulate a fresh vision and strategy that is anchored in the identities, lives, and structures of opportunities that exist organically in our communities.
Check out this Saturday school that we've opened up here in Austin. It is the result of a public, public, private (nonprofit) partnership. Here is a KLRU/PBS video that captures the overall initiative succinctly titled, "Academia Cuauhtli Works to Bridge History with Language.”
Due to the initiative of one of our members, Dr. Emilio Zamora who also sits on the Hispanic Quality of Life Commission, was able to set up a funding stream that will soon result in a paid internship to help us with this effort. Several student volunteers in our group have now also decided to pursue masters and doctoral degrees such that our very presence as university faculty, community members and advocates, has resulted in a pathway into advanced degrees.
To learn more about this initiative that has in fact inspired all of us, as well, consider reading this recent publication titled, “Academia Cuauhtli and the Eagle: Danza Mexica and the Epistemology of the Circle.” And like us on Facebook.
Just like with our food, or our best nutrition, we also need to go organic with our educational institutions. We need to rediscover grassroots democracy in and for our times—and with the schooling of our children and youth at the center.