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: This is something I don’t understand at all, this gender gap. Consistently, I have so many girls in my classes who excel and love math, and so I don’t understand it. I think it is just a great fallacy to think that males do better than females in math and science, but my personal experiences suggest otherwise.
Early on in our school, we used to put girls and boys in separate classes in the middle school thinking that they would do better if they were in single-sex classes. And I think there is maybe some merit to that concept. We don’t do that today more for operational reasons than anything else. But as I said, I just… I don’t get it, because I suspect in my classes this year, the girls in my classes are doing every bit as well, if not better, than the boys.
Recorded on: October 13, 2008