The best of 2010 should be a call to action for 2011

A generation later, twenty-eight of the thirty hottest young entrepreneurs don’t create, build or manufacture anything. Meanwhile, half our young people (presumably the half who are interested in making stuff) are dropping out of high school and will probably never see their name on any list that will make their mama’s proud.

Twenty-three of the thirty companies are built on providing services. Only a few of them have an actual location. They exist, instead, only in cyberspace. You can exchange coupons with strangers, rent a designer outfit you can’t afford to buy, have someone create a public persona for you, get someone to help you find a job or even put together a stay-cation for your buddies. Americans appear to be very interested in collaboration, convenience and comfort. And they prefer all that to happen with little or no contact with strangers.

In the meantime, our schools are still corralling kids into a bricks and mortar box where they aren’t allowed to work in teams to help each other uncover the best solution to the problem. Moreover, most states still consider a student technologically literate if they know how to use Microsoft Office Suite. To every single one of the thirty hottest companies on the list, that is just laughable. To the twenty-five industrial countries that are out pacing us in education, it is money in the bank.

Everyone on the list was educated at well-respected, hard to get in colleges. No one claimed to be “self made.” They all had help, significant help. As we dive head-long into important conversations about transforming the way we educate young people, we must stop looking at what was or even what is. We must predict what will be if we truly desire to re-build, re-create and re-energize America.

Heather Beaven has worked in workforce development and education for fifteen years. She is the CEO of Jobs for Florida's Graduates, a high school drop-out prevention not-for-profit and was the Democratic nominee in the 7th Congressional District of Florida in 2010.