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How Would You Change School?
Gerald Chertavian is the CEO and Founder of Year Up, a non-profit organization that provides intensive professional education to urban young adults. His organization was recently recognized by Fast Company and The Monitor Group as one of the top 25 organizations in the nation using business excellence to engineer social change. Prior to starting Year Up, Chertavian co-founded Conduit Communications and served as the head of marketing at Transnational Financial Services in London. He has been an active member of the Big Brother mentoring program since 1985, and was awarded New York’s outstanding member in 1989. He was also awarded the 2003 Social Entrepreneurship Award by the Manhattan Institute and the 2005 Freedom House Archie R. Williams, Jr. Technology Award. A graduate of Bowdoin College and Harvard Business School, Chertavian was born and raised in Lowell, MA.
Question: What lessons can public schools learn from your organization?
Gerald Chertavian: All right, see, I would argue that you can find proxies for those incentives. I ask every one of our students: how would you change high school? You know, you're now in Year Up, you've seen a different way, you've seen a kind of professional learning environment. How would you change high school? And clearly, three things come out time and time and time again. One is relevance -- I need what I'm learning to be relevant to my future. And if you look at some of our great vocational technical schools, students are doing exceptionally well there because the learning is very relevant to them. They're learning something they know how that will apply. So relevance is critical. Relationships are deeply critical. Many of our students say, we wish we had a mentor in high school. We wish we had someone we could spend more time with, who paid more attention to us, who I could sit down with and talk to when I had a problem. So relationships are critical.
And last is being rigorous. So our students say, I wish they had higher standards for us in high school; I wish they expected more from us. I wish we had a dress code so we didn't have to worry about what each other wore every day. So I think our young adults know what they need to be successful and are willing to be held accountable. I often think our adults are failing our children in certain parts of our public education system. But if you go to a well-run public school, a well-run charter school or a well-run program like Year Up, I will guarantee you, you will find relevance, rigor and relationships at the core of the culture of that organization and how they serve young people. So we -- look, we know what works in education. What is hard is replicating that systemically across millions of children, tens of thousand of schools and millions of teachers. So we do know what works, but it's been very hard in education to find a way to replicate that system across a wide swathe of schools.
Recorded on: October 29, 2009
For the founder of Year Up, asking this question of his students has yielded three concrete principles that are proving to work.
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- Modern antibiotics can effectively treat bubonic plague, which spreads mainly by fleas.
- Chinese health officials are also monitoring a newly discovered type of swine flu that has the potential to develop into a pandemic virus.
Bacteria under microscope
needpix.com<p>Today, bubonic plague can be treated effectively with antibiotics.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unlike in the 14th century, we now have an understanding of how this disease is transmitted," Dr. Shanthi Kappagoda, an infectious disease physician at Stanford Health Care, told <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">Healthline</a>. "We know how to prevent it — avoid handling sick or dead animals in areas where there is transmission. We are also able to treat patients who are infected with effective antibiotics, and can give antibiotics to people who may have been exposed to the bacteria [and] prevent them [from] getting sick."</p>
This plague patient is displaying a swollen, ruptured inguinal lymph node, or buboe.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention<p>Still, hundreds of people develop bubonic plague every year. In the U.S., a handful of cases occur annually, particularly in New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado, <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/plague/faq/index.html" target="_blank">where habitats allow the bacteria to spread more easily among wild rodent populations</a>. But these cases are very rare, mainly because you need to be in close contact with rodents in order to get infected. And though plague can spread from human to human, this <a href="https://www.healthline.com/health-news/seriously-dont-worry-about-the-plague#Heres-how-the-plague-spreads" target="_blank">only occurs with pneumonic plague</a>, and transmission is also rare.</p>
A new swine flu in China<p>Last week, researchers in China also reported another public health concern: a new virus that has "all the essential hallmarks" of a pandemic virus.<br></p><p>In a paper published in the <a href="https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/06/23/1921186117" target="_blank">Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences</a>, researchers say the virus was discovered in pigs in China, and it descended from the H1N1 virus, commonly called "swine flu." That virus was able to transmit from human to human, and it killed an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people worldwide from 2009 to 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.</p>There's no evidence showing that the new virus can spread from person to person. But the researchers did find that 10 percent of swine workers had been infected by the virus, called G4 reassortant EA H1N1. This level of infectivity raises concerns, because it "greatly enhances the opportunity for virus adaptation in humans and raises concerns for the possible generation of pandemic viruses," the researchers wrote.
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