At the New York Public Library’s Stephen A. Schwarzman building in midtown Manhattan, the country’s “top thought leaders and influencers in education, government, business, philanthropy, and media” came together to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time — how to improve education and prepare America’s youth for the jobs of the future. One of Simsbury High School’s own, senior Jakob Gattinger, was one of the 150 or so student voices selected to be heard at the summit.
The second annual “Student Town Hall” aired on MSNBC on Oct. 6. The program was broadcast as part of the 2013 “Education Nation” Summit, which ran October 6-8. Education Nation is an initiative of NBC News to engage the country in a solutions-focused conversation about the state of education in America. To coincide with the theme of this year’s Summit, “What It Takes,” the discussions focused on what it takes for teachers and students to be successful in today’s school system. Leading experts and stakeholders explored the critical factors that impact students’ chances of success.
MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, a tenured professor at Tulane University, moderated the Student Town Hall discussion, giving students the opportunity to express their ideas and concerns about performance, college affordability, the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), campus security, and other topics.
Gattinger was selected to speak on the topics of school safety and the affordability of college. Having received plenty of experience in public speaking already, the SHS senior was not at all nervous to voice his views in front of the large audience—and national television. In fact, he was more excited “to meet some pretty big players in the education and political worlds.” Two influential people that he was able to meet included Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt and Krystal Ball, host of MSNBC's The Cycle.
Gattinger brought a global point of view—that of a British and Canadian citizen—to the issue of college affordability. He questioned the relative high cost of a college education in the United States compared to other countries. The divestment of the state from the state institutions and the 2008 economic downturn are the main culprits, according to Harris-Perry, with the “tuition-paying units,” the students, left to bear the costs.
Gattinger also brought a unique perspective as a student from Simsbury when it came to school security. He said, “It was very eye-opening for me to hear from students who have shootings outside their schools or metal detectors. I heard from a broad spectrum of students, and it really opened my eyes to how much worse off other people have it.”
Currently Gattinger is the National Treasurer of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA), a non-profit, co-educational organization with over 250,000 members nationwide preparing for careers in business and business-related fields. He also serves as Treasurer of the Connecticut FBLA chapter and as the Simsbury Board of Education Student Representative.
You can watch a clip of Jakob Gattinger at the Summit at http://www.nbcnews.com/id/46979745/#53201805. Click on the segment entitled "How to circumvent costs of higher education."