Thursday, September 04, 2008

Do you believe in our children?

Below is a video of an exceptional young man...no, I take that back. He is not exceptional. He is what so many other kids could be.

I don't know his family, but I know his neighborhood. His school is 97% African-American and 90% of the school receives free or reduced-price lunch. Only 51% of his community has graduated from high school; only 6% has completed a bachelor's degree or higher.

This young man is only exceptional in the sense that he has defied the statistics...and the stereotypes. He speaks to an entire arena full of teachers and administrators better than I can speak to a small group of peers.

But, once again, he is not the exception. There are many other children in our low-income neighborhoods and schools. Children who need people believe in them and offer them resources and opportunities that will allow them to develop that talent.

They (and their parents) may need help with advocating for the tutoring or the other resources the school is legally supposed to be providing.

They may need someone to provide one-on-one tutoring to help them grasp a skill that they missed along the way and that is now spiraling them downward with no one paying attention.

They need a variety of enrichment activities and experiences that will allow them to make choices about what their particular interest and talent might be.

Once they get to high school, they may need help understanding how important Advanced Placement (AP) classes are to their future college career...and they may need someone to take the time to take them to the colleges they will one day attend.

They may need someone to guide them in filling out financial aid forms and applying to those colleges.

And they may need someone to be the encouragement and guidance throughout college when financial aid is being difficult and school is tough.

But allow me to say again. This child is NOT the exception. So far, he is obviously progressing along and persevering despite the odds. And I hope he continues. But please recognize how many others have that same potential if we did more, invested more, into the others around him--not just through charity...but through advocacy, through challenging our urban schools to draw highly experienced teachers, through voting to spend our tax dollars on schools low-income areas that don't have a strong tax base.

Kids like this will not only benefit our urban neighborhoods, his intelligence and his abilities will benefit our broader society...which will ultimately affect you. On the flip side, if we don't provide resources, encourage, support, and invest in these children, that will also affect you...but it may be in a much more negative way.

Check him out and think about the possibilities:


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