Thursday, July 23, 2009

Speaking For the Kids on the Waiting List

I was watching Black in America Part 2. It wasn't nearly as depressing as the first installment. There was something mentioned on the show tonight that got me a ticked off. There was a segment about Principal Steve Perry of Capital Prep High School in Hartford Connecticut. This is a school with a 0% drop out rate and everyone that has graduated went on to college. It was a pretty inspiring story and I got a little choked up when the female student featured was accepted into Post College. That was nice. During the story Soledad O'Brien mentioned that the school had a waiting list of 2000 kids waiting for one of 40 available slots. If Connecticut has a three grade level gap between white and black students and this school has 2000 students on a waiting list which signals that many parents and kids in that community want to do better, why not just implement the same things Mr. Perry is doing at his school and apply it to every school in the district?

Stories like this make me angry and think that people are playing with our children's future. Everybody says they hate crime. They hate having to spend their tax dollars to support people who need government assistance. Well, I don't think many of the kids that come out of Capital Prep are going to have that problem because they will be equipped with the tools to make it thanks to Principal Perry. It would be a shock if any of those graduates ended up on the wrong side of life. How much better would the city of Hartford be if the 1660 students who won't get into his school are equipped with the same tools?

In New Orleans we have some public schools that are struggling. We also have some that are thriving and improving test scores. I'm not talking about the upper echelon public schools that are well funded and exclusive. They always have good test scores. I'm talking about the schools that accepted the challenge of teaching struggling students and raised their scores. They must be doing something right because every parent I know is trying to find ways to get their kids in. Almost all of these schools have waiting list. Why wouldn't we just take whatever they are doing and make every school do it. Am I making this seem too simple? If it's about politics and someone taking credit then don't admit you stole ideas from a charter school and do it anyway. None of that should matter at this critical time when so many young men and women are bailing out on school with no chance for the future. Maybe I am making it sound too simple. Maybe I am not knowledgeable enough to understand how these kinds of decisions are made. All I know is that if this brother can get every graduate to the college level he should be giving all the resources necessary to expand this program. Now that's black in America when you know what the answers are to changing things but have to deal with the reality and frustration that only a small select few of you will get a chance to experience it. I guess we will keep trying things so these inner city districts can keep struggling and superintendents can have places to hire them so they can try and make a name for themselves at the expense of a few more graduating classes.

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