Major US Youth Trends (Draft)
Declining family support needed to develop our youth:
Single parent families now makeup a much larger portion of the community (Nearly two- thirds of African-American children, and almost one in four white children, live in households with only one parent).
Parents in dual wage-earner families are working longer hours (increased from 84 hours per week in 1998 to 91 hours per week in 2002)
Our schools are in crisis:
Approximately 30% of U.S. students do not finish high school.
70% of our 8th graders score below proficiency levels in math.
69% of our 8th graders score below proficiency in English
U.S. 15-year-olds scored 28th in math and problem-solving skills among children from 41 industrialized nations who took the same test.
The increasing cost of college education has created career road blocks for many high school grads and accelerated the debt of others who do attend. Higher college costs are marginalizing segments of our communities and limiting the dreams of minority youth.
Sudden changes in economic realities caused by globalization and outsourcing are quickly changing available career options open to our youth. Youth must now face an uncertain future where the demand for careers may change dramatically during the time needed to get a degree.
More careers are now demanding graduate degrees due to the increasingly complex world. The amount of research completed and new knowledge discovered during the past 25 years -- thanks to the computer -- exceeds the amount that accumulated over the entire preceding course of history.
Young workers assuming positions with employers must quickly learn how to deal with complex global markets for which there is a tidal wave on information. Workers are awash in data in every industry from social services to pharmaceuticals, adding new realities to the decision making processes in corporations, government, and non-profits.
Diversity in our communities and schools brings new opportunities and challenges.
Our youth must now transcend cultural and linguistic boundaries in the class room, on the sports field, and in neighborhoods in order to just make friends. A national lifestyle survey by Teenage Research Unlimited in 2004 reported that 58% of teens said their group of closest friends includes members of diverse racial backgrounds. Even more reported having friends from different economic and religious backgrounds
Employers know that diversity is the cradle for innovation and creativity-- and that it holds out great hope for the future if we can develop the leadership skills needed to facilitate the process.
The increasingly combative and confrontational approaches by political, news sources and community leaders place unusual strain on the fabric of democracy. If segments of the population are not willing to compromise when the common good is in some other group’s behalf, then democracy may fail to provide a civil and stable society.
Our youth must be lonely pioneers in navigating in a brave new world created by a wide array of new technologies. These technologies have changed every aspect of our life, from how we find mates, complete our home work, communicate with grandparents, to how we propagate the species, pay for medical service, and receive our news.