Big Data's Big Deal
The past couple decades have seen an increase in an interest in data and its use—indeed, Google searches for “Analytics” are 6.5 times what they were in 2004, and the term “Big Data” only started appearing en masse in searches around 2010. While data analysis can be very powerful, to many, data is still unapproachable and tends to over-generalize its findings. This is why context around data is as important as the data analysis it informs, and it is usually why an analysis can miss the mark.
This is the case especially in education. Regardless of a child’s age, differences in development, personal life, and learning styles abound, making general statements a very precarious undertaking. If I told you that students from lower income backgrounds tend to perform worse academically, one might think that individuals with less money simply do worse in school. In reality, however, this speaks nothing about the individual, rather it speaks to factors associated with lower incomes that might cause a student to do worse in school—like poor nutrition, inability to attend school on a regular basis due to varying reasons, or a host of other circumstantial influences.
In order to address this, Building Our Future has created data teams comprised of professionals that work specifically with and for each of our educational networks. These four work teams focus on developing systems around data use to advance Building Our Future’s vision within the areas of kindergarten readiness (the Smart Beginnings Network), Early Grade Reading, Community Engagement, and, the newest network area, High School Completion, Postsecondary Success, and Career Readiness. Meeting for an hour each month, they discuss the appropriate use of data to support what professionals in the field are doing and create analytics to guide their strategy.
Data is the way of the future—there’s no doubting that. It’s power, though, cannot be understated, nor can it be used lightly. In working together, Kenosha County can affect the systems and language around its data to make the outcomes of our children better and more equitable for years to come.
Ways to Get Involved:
My personal mission statement is “Create safe places for people to live into their genius.” Building Our Future’s work speaks to that. In my life, I am most grateful for those who provide a safe place for me to be all I can be.
I believe everyone has a unique genius and, with the right support and hard work, they can live into it, making the positive impact our world needs.
My soul aches when I think of the child, capable of making the next major medical breakthrough but, because of circumstances out of their control, they will never get the chance. I am driven by joy when I think of my father, a high school dropout, who had a community that saw something in him he could not, supporting him in building a successful company that has made a positive difference for many.
Coming to Kenosha has been a blessing for me, my family, and our business. I am grateful to those who came before and had a grand vision for our future and I do not take their hard work and civic responsibility for granted.
In previous generations, they saw a need for a bank, a hospital, a social security office, a business park, and on and on, so they built them. They had full lives but made the time to take on a bigger, community-focused vision that included more than their personal success.
Building Our Future is a vision for the next generation. Too many of our children are falling through the cracks, and it affects every one of us. It affects the future and will take an entire community committing to change. Schools can’t do it alone.
For me, Building Our Future is a way to pay forward the blessings I have been given by this community. It is a way for Kenosha County to be all it can be.
A thriving future will require the genius of every child, and we must create an infrastructure that provides for that.
The vision “EVERYONE ACHIEVING PERSONAL POTENTIAL CRADLE TO CAREER” is a real possibility. For me, it’s a vision worth spending the rest of my life on.
In the words of Margaret Meade, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”