In 1976, Tom Bloch joined H&R Block, the world's largest tax services provider, where his father was CEO. In 1981, after introducing automation to the company's office network, he was elected President of the Tax Operations. Later, he oversaw the company's innovative practice of filing tax returns electronically to the IRS, which revolutionized the industry. Bloch was promoted to President of the corporation in 1989 and CEO in 1992. His second career began in 1995 as a middle school math teacher at St. Francis Xavier, an inner city parochial school. Five years later, he co-founded the University Academy, a public charter school in Kansas City. Bloch continues to teach 7th and 8th grade math at the urban college prep school he helped design and launch. He is also President of the school's board. The Academy has grown from 200 students in grades seven through nine in its first year to over 1,000 students in kindergarten through grade twelve. The school moved into a new, $40 million facility in 2005, and it became the first school in Missouri to receive a ten-year extension of its charter. Over the last five years, all but two graduates of the Academy have gone on to attend college, an almost unheard-of success rate for an urban school. Bloch is the author of Stand for the Best, a memoir about his journey from CEO to inner city teacher and school founder. He graduated cum laude in 1976 from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California.
Tom Bloch: I think we still have two systems of education in the United States, and I worry because we also have two societies in the United States. And I think you think about how we can create a more equal society, well, one school of thought is that you redistribute income, you change the tax laws so that low-income people would get more money back or higher-income people will be paying more tax, and that will even out this inequity that exist, and that may help, at least in the short term. But longer term, to really create a single society that’s fair to all people is through our education system.
That, in the long term, will do more to improve our nation than anything we can do. Now, short term, yes, we could re-distribute income through the tax system and other ways, but unless we improve our education system such that all children have an equal opportunity, in the long term we will not have that great society that we strive for.
Recorded on: October 13, 2008