E2010 Wired

The power of our words can inspire change in a single person, then two, then the world.

Can Poor Students with Parents who have no College Degree be Educated?

Today’s Hartford Courant’s article, “Town-by-Town SAT Scores,” emphasizes once again the gross disparity in the achievement gap in our state. The article, however, draws a “correlation” between the wealthy and the poor in a way that is quite troublesome:

“HARTFORD — —Students in Connecticut’s wealthiest towns had the best overall scores on the 2010 SAT, while students in the poorest cities fared the worst, underscoring the correlation between wealth and student achievement. … It’s clear that students in the towns with high scores, parents do have resources for SAT prep courses, additional tutoring and exploration of the PSAT, and the ability to take the SAT multiple times,” Tom Murphy, a spokesman for the state Department of Education, said Monday. … In addition to that, these students are more likely to have the highest percentage of parents with dual college degrees and an appreciation for the educational enterprise. So there’s a lot of support for each student to succeed.”[….]

Does this mean that being poor makes one uneducable? Or, does it mean that parents who did not have the opportunity of go to college — for whatever reason — do not understand the importance of education? Absolutely not.  Fortunately for us all, history does not agree with the “correlation” that is drawn here. Quite the opposite is true.

Jumoke Academy Honors Middle School Students

On September 7, 2010, The Hartford Guardian’s article, “Jumoke Academy Touts Successes,” tells a completely different story: “[T]his past year 100 percent of students at Jumoke Academy performed at or above proficiency in math, while 97.5 percent scored at or above proficiency in reading.

These scores are higher than the state percentage and surpass surrounding public schools in Simsbury, New Canaan, Greenwich, Glastonbury, and Farmington. And with 90.5 percent of students performing at or above proficiency in writing, Jumoke remains competitive.” These are African American students who are out-performing their counterparts in public schools in some of the wealthiest cities and towns in Connecticut. Perhaps the State Board of Education should visit Jumoke Academy and chat with Dr. Michael Sharpe (President and CEO) about their success.

Geoffrey Canada and HCZ Students

Last week, Geoffrey Canada, President and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, was interviewed on Oprah. Canada shared that 98 percent of his students graduate high school and of that 98 percent, 89 percent enter four-year colleges. Clearly, HCZ’s achievement completely debunks any potential myth that because one is poor or one’s parents are not college graduates, means that a student from this background is uneducable.

In Mach 2009, Harvard University relased its findings on HCZ’s success in a report, ”

Are High Quality Schools Enough to Close the Achievement Gap? Evidence from a Social Experiment in Harlem, stating:

Harlem Children’s Zone is effective at increasing the achievement of the poorest minority children. Taken at face value, the effects in middle school are enough to close the black-white achievement gap in mathematics and reduce it by nearly half in English Language Arts. The effects in elementary school close the racial achievement gap in both subjects. We conclude by presenting four pieces of evidence that high-quality schools or high-quality schools coupled with community investments generate the achievement gains. Community investments alone cannot explain the results.

Tribune photo by Heather Charles

In March of this year, this photo and the amazing story behind it circulated the Internet, capturing everyone’s heart and filling us with hope for a brighter future.

The story: “The entire senior class at Chicago’s only public all-male, all-African-American high school has been accepted to four-year colleges. At last count, the 107 seniors had earned spots at 72 schools across the nation. … Mayor Richard Daley and Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman surprised students at an all-school assembly at Urban Prep Academy for Young Men in Englewood this morning to congratulate them. It’s the first graduating class at Urban Prep since it opened its doors in 2006.” [….]

What an amazing story of 107 young black men from Chicago’s south side in a neighborhood that, according to the previous census, was comprised of 98.8 percent African Americans and a median income of $18,955, would begin to turn itself around and in 2010 produce such excellence.

Hartford CT, Harlem NY and Englewood IL are just a few of the stories that dispels any misguided thinking that because of one’s lack of wealth, one is uneducable. These success stories must become a consistent part of our thinking and our vocabulary as we embark on reforming public education.

Jumoke Academy Touts Successes

Making a Difference: Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone

Urban Prep an all black charter school in Chicago, 100% graduate and have been accepted to college


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