Never Let a Crisis Go to Waste
For one difficult year, I was an assistant professor at the Detroit Institute of Technology. It was a year after I graduated from Michigan State University and started my accounting practice. I taught all the night courses that no one else wanted, like drugstore accounting. I scoured lesson plans, textbooks, and teachers' guides and tried to keep my students' attention. A lot of them were older than I was, worked two jobs, or had just come back from fighting in Korea. It was incredibly challenging work that left me with a lifelong respect for teachers.
Now, nearly 60 years later, that early experience has become all the more important because of my passionate involvement in philanthropic work to improve America's public schools.
I am old enough to remember when America's K-12 public schools were the best in the world. I am a proud graduate of them, and I credit much of my success to what I learned in Detroit public schools and at Michigan State. When I was in high school, not long after World War II, the United States had the top graduation rate. Since then, we have dropped behind 20 other industrialized nations. In less time than you just spent reading the last paragraph, another American student has...
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