WATCH: These powerful stories show why we need to share the Success Sequence each and every day

WATCH: These powerful stories show why we need to share the Success Sequence each and every day

man on top of mountain

WATCH: These powerful stories show why we need to share the Success Sequence each and every day

Key Points

  • All young people — not just those who come from rich families — deserve to know this “secret to success”: get an education, work hard, get married, and then have children.
  •  No matter the challenges young people face, there is a path to build a bright future — through the Success Sequence.
  • Institute for Family Studies has shared 3 powerful videos that show the face and opportunity brought by the Success Sequence.

The Success Sequence and its impact

“The choice of having children too early is one you’ll have to play catch up with for the rest of your life.” 

“I wish that I had made some different decisions when I was young. Think before you act. Definitely be intentional about the decisions you’re making at that age, because they do have a lasting effect on your life.”

 “Having to get food donated to us was the bottom of my life.”

Those are just a few of the powerful quotes contained in the narrative stories — called Straight Talk About the Success Sequence — in a series of new videos on the Success Sequence from the Institute for Family Studies.

The basic premise of this campaign is simple: All young people — not just those who come from rich families — deserve to know this “secret to success”: get an education, work hard, get married, and then have children.

As you know, the Success Sequence is a powerful and proven way for even the most disadvantaged men and women to avoid poverty and to have a shot at the stable, happy family life they really want.

 

The Success Sequence:
His Story

Part One: Men

The numbers prove it all

Statistics show that 97% of young people who follow these steps are not poor later in life, and fully 85% of them enter the middle class.

Can it really be that simple? That’s what’s so great about the Success Sequence: The answer is simple, but the key is to get the information to young people at the right time.

No matter the challenges young people face, there is a path to build a bright future — through the Success Sequence.

It’s organizations like the Georgia Center for Opportunity that are bringing the truth of the Success Sequence to young people every day. Whether it’s GCO’s work to expand educational options for all students, bring career opportunities to the impoverished, or bringing relationship enrichment classes to local communities, we are on the front lines. The Institute for Family Studies recognizes this.

The Success Sequence:
Her Story

Part Two: Women

“The Success Sequence is only effective as a concept if it’s shared in practical ways with young people,” said Brad Wilcox, senior fellow at the Institute for Family Studies. “On-the-ground organizations like the Georgia Center for Opportunity play a key role in this. Our young people deserve to know about their potential to take hold of the American Dream.”

Please share these important videos on social media, with your friends and family, and with young people in your life who need to hear this important message. We need to spread the word on the Success Sequence so that other young people don’t face the same struggles in life faced by Scott, Stephanie, and Caylie and Carlos.

The Success Sequence:
Their Story

Part Three: Cohabitation

The U.S. Department of Education has approved Georgia’s request to waive several testing and attendance measurements

girl remote learning

The U.S. Department of Education has approved Georgia’s request to waive several testing and attendance measurements

Key Points

  • Georgia’s request to waive several testing and attendance measurements for the 2022 school year was approved by U.S. Dept. of Education
  • This move locks in the learning loss that took place during the COVID-19
  • American Relief Package Act requires at least 20% of funds be spent on recovering learning loss

    Georgia’s request approved

    The U.S. Department of Education has approved Georgia’s request to waive several testing and attendance measurements for the 2022 school year. “Our goal is to establish a new baseline, rather than compare your schools’ performance to pre-pandemic norms,” said School Superintendent Richard Woods.

    Buzz - GA School quote

    The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take:

    “By doing this we are locking in the learning loss that took place during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Buzz Brockway, vice president of GCO. “This means for some students, they will never recover from the pandemic learning loss they experienced, nor are they expected to recover. This ignores the millions and millions of dollars Georgia’s school districts are being sent via the American Relief Package Act, which requires that at least 20% of those funds be spent on recovering learning loss. What will local districts do with that money? Is giving up best for students? Georgia’s parents should march in loud protest to accepting that pandemic learning loss is the new norm.”

     

    An epidemic of teen depression (and what to do about it)

    An epidemic of teen depression (and what to do about it)

    An epidemic of teen depression (and what to do about it)

    teens helping and hugging mental health

    An epidemic of teen depression (and what to do about it)

    Key Takeaways:

    • In the last 10 years, the number of teens identifying as having “experienced persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness” doubled.
    • School connectedness was a key barometer of how well teens fared mentally.
    • Teens tend to be more isolated than their peers of past decades, more reliant on social media and smartphones to create a type of “pseudo community.”
    • GCO’s priorities is to offer relationship enrichment classes in local communities and schools.
    Full Report:  Click Here

    Nothing in life can replace genuine community

    The United States has a teen depression problem. And it’s only getting worse.

    That assessment is based off a new study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released in April. It found that 44% of teens “experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” in the most recent 12-month period. What’s more, 20% of teens “had seriously considered attempting suicide” and 9% “had attempted suicide.”

    What’s truly eye-opening is when you compare these statistics with the reported mental health status of teens a decade ago. In 2009, for example, just 26% of teens reported having consistent feelings of sadness and despair. That means in roughly the last decade, the rate of teens who feel this way has nearly doubled. Rates of teens attempting suicide (from 14% to 19%) or committing suicide (6% to 9%) also increased during that period.

    The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the problem, as teens have been more isolated than ever. The CDC survey was of 7,700 teens conducted in the first six months of 2021, when the young people were still mired in the worst of the pandemic school shutdowns and social isolation.

    “These data echo a cry for help,” said CDC acting principal deputy director Debra Houry in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has created traumatic stressors that have the potential to further erode students’ mental wellbeing.”

    Importantly, the CDC report found that school connectedness was a key barometer of how well teens fared mentally. “Youth who felt connected to adults and peers at school were significantly less likely than those who did not to report persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness,” the study concluded.

    What’s interesting about this anecdote from the CDC report is the emphasis on community and positive social relationships in maintaining good mental health. Today’s teens tend to be more isolated than their peers of past decades, more reliant on social media and smartphones to create a type of “pseudo community.”

    As a recent article in The Atlantic points out, “Compared with their counterparts in the 2000s, today’s teens are less likely to go out with their friends, get their driver’s license, or play youth sports.”

    It goes without saying that the pandemic only worsened these problems. What’s more, our nation’s public discourse has continued to deteriorate and today has never been more toxic, in large part fed by a culture drenched in social media.

    The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

    Again to quote The Atlantic, “Outwardly, teens are growing up slower; but online, they’re growing up faster. The internet exposes teenagers not only to supportive friendships but also to bullying, threats, despairing conversations about mental health, and a slurry of unsolvable global problems—a carnival of negativity. Social media places in every teen’s pocket a quantified battle royal for scarce popularity that can displace hours of sleep and makes many teens, especially girls, feel worse about their body and life. Amplify these existing trends with a global pandemic and an unprecedented period of social isolation, and suddenly, the remarkable rise of teenage sadness doesn’t feel all that mysterious, does it?”

    Solutions to this problem are not easy, but we know from our work at the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) that nothing in life can replace genuine community. That community ranges from a good school to a healthy family life to thriving relationships to meaningful work. Teenagers need this just as much as adults — perhaps even more so as they pass through these key years of development.

    One of GCO’s priorities is to offer relationship enrichment classes in local communities and schools. That includes students in middle and high school. Joyce Mayberry, vice president of GCO’s family team, “Teaching young people the dynamics of healthy relationships is so important, now more than ever. We’re seeing the devastating results of a loss of meaningful relationships, but it’s not too late to reverse course. All it takes is a direct investment in sharing the tools and approaches that work with young people.”

    The bottom line is this: A key way to combat this epidemic of teen depression and poor mental health is through real community, where teens experience relationships face-to-face with friends, family, and broader society. That’s also one of the best ways to break the social media addiction — substituting real relationships for fake ones in a virtual world. Ultimately, it all loops back to community.

    Randy Hicks on taking a bottom-up strategy to state policy reform | Overton Window Podcast

    Randy Hicks on taking a bottom-up strategy to state policy reform | Overton Window Podcast

    Randy Hicks on taking a bottom-up strategy to state policy reform | Overton Window Podcast

    GCO’s CEO, Randy Hicks speaks with fellow think tank podcast, The Overton Window

    Below is an excerpt from the Mackinac Center in Michigan. The Mackinac Center recently invited GCO’s CEO, Randy Hicks to discuss GCO’s take on State Policy Reform on their regular podcast,  The Overton Window.

    Like many public policy advocates, the people at the Georgia Center for Opportunity research and write about public policy. What makes them different is that they try to bridge the gap between people working at the community level and the people working on state policy. I spoke with their president and CEO Randy Hicks about this for the Overton Window podcast.

     

    “One of the things that sets us apart is that we actually spend a lot of time in the community working on those who we believe could be or are most affected by various public policies that we’re interested in,” Hicks says.

    The dynamics between working on state policy and working at the community level are different, and state politics is not very conducive to collaboration.

     

    Op-Ed: Georgia Politicians Reject Educational Freedom At Their Own Peril | Real Clear Policy

    Op-Ed: Georgia Politicians Reject Educational Freedom At Their Own Peril | Real Clear Policy

    In The News

    Op-Ed: Georgia Politicians Reject Educational Freedom At Their Own Peril | Real Clear Policy

    Tuesday, March 15, was a sad day for kids in Georgia.

    That’s the day when the Georgia Senate voted down a bill to create Promise Scholarships. Eight Republicans joined all Democrats in rejecting the scholarships, which would have offered families up to $6,000 a year for approved education expenses. Another six Republicans chose to abstain from voting, knowing that doing so would kill the bill.

    Promise Scholarships would step far beyond a typical voucher by fully putting parents in the driver’s seat when it comes to their child’s education. The funds could have been used for private-school tuition, but there would have been added flexibility depending on each family’s unique needs, extending to paying for things like tutoring, specialized therapies, or homeschool co-ops.

    It’s unjust that the best interests of Georgia’s schoolchildren have once again fallen prey to politics and special-interest groups. While some lawmakers were twisting arms to get votes to pass gambling programs to benefit a handful of people, others were voting “no” on Promise Scholarships that would allow tens of thousands of kids to flourish.

    Simply put, a vote against S.B. 601 was a vote against the many Georgia families who desperately need help. Particularly as our state emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic where so many students are left behind, it’s unconscionable that we would deny this lifeline to families.

    What’s also unconscionable is why politicians would reject educational freedom given that the vast majority of Georgians want it.

    A recent poll from GeorgiaCAN found that 72% of respondents favor “expanding educational options by allowing a child’s state education dollars to follow that student to the school that best fits their needs, whether that is public, private, magnet, charter, virtual, or homeschool.” Support cut across party lines, with 79% of Republicans in favor, 78% of Independents, and 64% of Democrats.

    Do Georgians favor the idea of Promise Scholarships? That same GeorgiaCAN poll put support for Promise Scholarships at 59%. Public school parents voiced even stronger support, with 67% in favor.

    Those results are in line with other recent polling showing that between two-thirds and three-fourths of Georgians support the core ideas of educational opportunity for all students, not just those blessed with a high income or who live in the right zip code. The bottom line is that in our era of sordid political discourse and deep divides between the parties, there are few issues that garner as much bi-partisan support as educational opportunity and equity.

    One of the attributes that makes Georgia a great place to live — and a great place to relocate to from other areas of the country — is our diverse and growing set of educational options. It’s the 21st century, and our policymakers recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach no longer works, least of all when it comes to the education of our children.

    But while we’ve had important progress over the last few years, we need to keep moving forward. Traditional public schools will remain the right option for most families, but a swiftly growing number of families are choosing alternatives — public charter schools, private schools, or homeschools. As a state, our objective must be to support students and families in the educational environment that works best for them. Our priority must be funding student education, not systems of education that aren’t meeting the needs of every child in our state.

    That’s precisely why we need the flexibility provided by Promise Scholarships. Passing Promise Scholarships would have put Georgia at the forefront nationally of giving all children the opportunity for a great education. And politicians running for office this year would be wise to pay attention. For evidence, look no further than Virginia’s recent gubernatorial election, when now Gov. Glenn Youngkin swept into office on a platform of empowering parents.

    Remember, the midterm elections are just around the corner: All 56 state Senate and 180 state House seats up for grabs. Meanwhile, parents are clamoring for educational options like never before.

    The question is, will Georgia politicians listen? The answer appears to be a resounding no.

    Originally Posted In Real Clear Policy

    Op-Ed: Georgia Politicians Reject Educational Freedom At Their Own Peril | Real Clear Policy

    Op-Ed: Georgia Politicians Reject Educational Freedom At Their Own Peril | The Georgia Virtue

    In The News

    Op-Ed: Georgia Politicians Reject Educational Freedom At Their Own Peril | The Georgia Virtue

    Tuesday, March 15, was a sad day for kids in Georgia.

    That’s the day when the Georgia Senate voted down a bill to create Promise Scholarships. Eight Republicans joined all Democrats in rejecting the scholarships, which would have offered families up to $6,000 a year for approved education expenses. Another six Republicans chose to abstain from voting, knowing that doing so would kill the bill.

    Promise Scholarships would step far beyond a typical voucher by fully putting parents in the driver’s seat when it comes to their child’s education. The funds could have been used for private-school tuition, but there would have been added flexibility depending on each family’s unique needs, extending to paying for things like tutoring, specialized therapies, or homeschool co-ops.

    It’s unjust that the best interests of Georgia’s schoolchildren have once again fallen prey to politics and special-interest groups. While some lawmakers were twisting arms to get votes to pass gambling programs to benefit a handful of people, others were voting “no” on Promise Scholarships that would allow tens of thousands of kids to flourish.

    Simply put, a vote against S.B. 601 was a vote against the many Georgia families who desperately need help. Particularly as our state emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic where so many students are left behind, it’s unconscionable that we would deny this lifeline to families.

    What’s also unconscionable is why politicians would reject educational freedom given that the vast majority of Georgians want it.

    A recent poll from GeorgiaCAN found that 72% of respondents favor “expanding educational options by allowing a child’s state education dollars to follow that student to the school that best fits their needs, whether that is public, private, magnet, charter, virtual, or homeschool.” Support cut across party lines, with 79% of Republicans in favor, 78% of Independents, and 64% of Democrats.

    Do Georgians favor the idea of Promise Scholarships? That same GeorgiaCAN poll put support for Promise Scholarships at 59%. Public school parents voiced even stronger support, with 67% in favor.

    Those results are in line with other recent polling showing that between two-thirds and three-fourths of Georgians support the core ideas of educational opportunity for all students, not just those blessed with a high income or who live in the right zip code. The bottom line is that in our era of sordid political discourse and deep divides between the parties, there are few issues that garner as much bi-partisan support as educational opportunity and equity.

    One of the attributes that makes Georgia a great place to live — and a great place to relocate to from other areas of the country — is our diverse and growing set of educational options. It’s the 21st century, and our policymakers recognize that a one-size-fits-all approach no longer works, least of all when it comes to the education of our children.

    But while we’ve had important progress over the last few years, we need to keep moving forward. Traditional public schools will remain the right option for most families, but a swiftly growing number of families are choosing alternatives — public charter schools, private schools, or homeschools. As a state, our objective must be to support students and families in the educational environment that works best for them. Our priority must be funding student education, not systems of education that aren’t meeting the needs of every child in our state.

    That’s precisely why we need the flexibility provided by Promise Scholarships. Passing Promise Scholarships would have put Georgia at the forefront nationally of giving all children the opportunity for a great education. And politicians running for office this year would be wise to pay attention. For evidence, look no further than Virginia’s recent gubernatorial election, when now Gov. Glenn Youngkin swept into office on a platform of empowering parents.

    Remember, the midterm elections are just around the corner: All 56 state Senate and 180 state House seats up for grabs. Meanwhile, parents are clamoring for educational options like never before.

    The question is, will Georgia politicians listen? The answer appears to be a resounding no.

    Originally Posted In The Georgia Virtue