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McGraw Hill’s Corporate Leadership & Responsibility in Education
An Exclusive Interview with Harold McGraw III
By Dr. Pola Rosen

Education Update (EU): The Harold W. McGraw, Jr. Prize honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions to education. What were some of the motivating factors in creating this prize?

Harold McGraw (HM): We established the Prize in 1988 to mark the Corporation’s 100th anniversary, and to honor the lifelong commitment to literacy and education of my father, for whom the Prize is named.

The Prize affords us a wonderful opportunity to recognize educators and education policy makers who share our mission of making a difference in the lives of young people and who have made substantial and meaningful contributions to students, to their communities and ultimately to the future of our nation.

As in the past, this year’s winners, who we recognized in September, have led by looking beyond and rising above the status quo: to improve the way students learn and teachers teach; to boost student performance; and to strengthen our educational infrastructure. Their work is a demonstration of the positive impact an individual can make in the lives of students. We hope that by shining a light on these leaders, we may inspire others to follow their examples.

EU: Your company has served the public in many capacities. What educational endeavors are you proudest of?:

HM: We are continually helping people succeed in every stage of their lives, whether that’s through digital learning tools from McGraw-Hill Education, through financial analysis from Standard & Poor’s, or customer satisfaction surveys from J.D. Power and Associates. I am proud to say that we are dedicated to providing the important information people need to improve their lives.

I also take great pride in our support of financial literacy and economic education. Unfortunately, the U.S. savings rate is on the decline and is now the lowest of any developed country, while average credit card debt per household has been increasing. Foreclosures and personal bankruptcies are also on the rise. And more than one-third of American workers say they are not saving for retirement. 

We can and must do better, because we know that a basic understanding of economics is necessary for young people to comprehend how the world works and to prepare for their futures.

That is why we work closely with a number of financial literacy organizations, including the National Council on Economic Education, with whom we have partnered since 1997. NCEE is a fantastic organization that advocates for the teaching of quality, standards-based K-12 economic education in every state.  We work with NCEE in a number of ways, one of which is their annual series of Master Teacher Workshops. The workshops are designed to equip participating high school economics teachers with economic and financial literacy skills that they can then pass on to their students. All the curricula use lessons employing practical, real-world scenarios that demonstrate fundamental economic concepts and offer teachers a variety of resources, test questions, and teaching strategies to implement in the classroom.

EU: What are some of the issues that you feel need to be addressed in education in our country? How do you envision McGraw-Hill playing a part?

HM: We must continue to focus on maintaining America’s leadership position in today’s increasingly competitive, global economy. With the rise of China and India—India alone is producing 3 million college graduates per year and China is producing almost as many—we must do all we can to ensure that our educational infrastructure is up to meeting the demands of the 21st century.

Sadly, trends indicate that our educational infrastructure is not adequate for meeting our needs.  The country’s 10 largest school districts together see nearly 180,000 high school students with inadequate skills and uncertain futures drop out annually.  That is enough high school dropouts to populate a small city each year – from just the 10 largest school districts alone. 

The college dropout rate in the U.S. is also a serious cause for concern.  Almost one-third of students entering colleges today never return for their second year.

The opportunities for improvement abound—and they begin with our very youngest students, because we now know that how well a child is prepared when she or he begins kindergarten is one of the best predictors of future educational success, including college enrollment.  That means that access to quality early learning programs translates not only to better opportunities for our young people, but also higher standards of living in our communities and nation.

And we are excited about the role McGraw-Hill Education is playing in helping teachers and administrators drive student achievement progressively through not just the early years but all grade levels. Take our newly launched School Solutions Group, which provides a comprehensive approach to the development of print and digital instructional materials from pre-kindergarten through high school. We continue to do all we can to empower the growth of teachers and students of all ages.

Thanks to dedicated educators, communities committed to excellence, the spirit of today’s young people and the promise of technology I believe America’s future is very bright.

EU:  Can you tell us about your own education? Where did you attend school, who were some of your mentors? Any special teachers that you recall (elementary school through college)?

HM: Given my father’s commitment to education, from a very young age I was instilled with the belief that learning is a life-long endeavor. I continue to believe that. It is that principle that took me to Tufts University as an undergraduate and then to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania for graduate school and continues to carry me through everything I do.

You have to constantly put yourself in a position to learn from others in any way you can. The worst thing you can do when you think you have the playbook is to think all you have to do is execute. The world is constantly changing and technology requires all of us to stay informed of the latest developments. So it is absolutely critical to continually ask questions, to investigate and learn from your experiences.

EU: How is McGraw-Hill addressing the needs of learning materials and books for our ever increasing non-English speaking students in the US?

HM: There are approximately 5 million students in U.S. public schools who have limited proficiency in English because English is their second language, up nearly 50 percent from the 1994-95 school year.  I applaud the educators who are helping these students and the students themselves who are working hard to master their English language skills.

Although we find English Language Learners all over the country, there are obviously significant numbers of ELL students in our large school districts. These large school districts with their diverse student populations often have unique needs. That is why we established The McGraw-Hill Education Urban Advisory Resource. We have experts who have extensive experience in managing large districts with limited resources available to help in any way we can. It is a terrific resource.

EU: What is your vision for your company in the future? 

HM: For nearly 120 years we have been offering information, insight and analysis. In the future, we will continue to provide trusted information. The way we do our work, however, is changing dramatically. With advances in technology and the Internet, our products and services are increasingly moving online.

For example, approximately 95percent of our higher education textbooks are now offered as e-books. Technology also allows us to offer custom e-books that can include select chapters from one or more textbooks or even combined with a professor’s original content.

We are also increasingly a global company. Consider Standard & Poor’s. Thirty-seven percent of S&P’s revenues come from markets outside the U.S. That will grow to 50 percent by 2010. And BusinessWeek is now publishing a single global print edition and creating customized online editions for Europe and Asia and developing local-language editions in key markets.

McGraw-Hill Education is reaching a global audience as well. Around the world, there is growing recognition that education is the key to sustainable economic progress. As a result, higher education is expanding, with nearly 100 million students around the world and enrollments are expected to rise significantly over the next 20 years.  

The long-term growth in each of the markets we serve—education, finance and business information—remains strong and makes me very optimistic about our future.#



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