Thursday, March 06, 2008

Anxieties of a high school "graduate"

Several months ago we had started deportation hearings with Jose. Though the other two students going through deportation hearings had graduated from high school and were attending college, Jose was not. He had not yet passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). Texas allows you three chances. He had already used up two of those. Though he has completed all of the requirements to graduate from high school, he can not "graduate" until he passes TAKS.

We connected Jose with a tutor.

As Jose and I went to meet him for the first time, Jose explained to me that he just couldn't get the math. He explained that he never liked school and neither did his brother. He wished his brother, who is still in high school, could do the tutoring with him in hopes that he could grasp the math and begin enjoying school before he got as behind as Jose. Jose felt like he had missed some important concepts in math...and now felt like he just couldn't grasp the rest. He didn't want his brother in the same boat.

Jose began driving to Richardson every Thursday to tutor with Ron Greene.

Though I don't think this experience has necessarily convinced Jose to become a mathematician some day, he has begun understanding the material. As Ron stated in an email: I believe he has the ability to learn this stuff.

No doubt in my mind, he does. Jose has all of the abilities to learn. He missed some stuff along the way and school wasn't relevant to him for whatever reason (perhaps his knowledge that being undocumented would never allow him to work in a career field of his choice, perhaps the teachers didn't do enough to help him grasp concepts he'd missed, perhaps the schools weren't resourced enough, perhaps the environment of the school and the friends around him wasn't conducive to learning). Jose and so many others are in this same situation. Great kids...intelligent kids...who are now suffering because of a variety of situational circumstances.

Jose's test started this morning.

When I called him earlier this week, I wanted to make sure he knew he is perfectly capable of passing this math test. He has all of the capacity to do this. Though his test was scheduled earlier in the month than he had anticipated, I tried to assure him that if he worked really hard studying the material he and Ron had gone over, he would do ok. I truly hope his anxiety doesn't get the best of him.

I'm afraid that for all of the reasons that school may not be relevant to our kids (those mentioned above as well as countless others), our kids begin believing *they* are the ones who are incapable of learning. They begin believing they it's not possible for them.

Wouldn't it be nice if every kid could have a personal tutor to help him/her realize their potential? Wouldn't it be nice if every child knew that no matter their legal or economic status that they had an equal opportunity to learn?

Think about Jose today and pray that he passes this test and can once again believe in his abilities and his capabilities...and let's work to make sure that our education system becomes relevant and resourced enough...and our immigration policies are re-framed to make more sense...so that kids don't continue to end up in Jose's situation.
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