Saturday, April 25, 2009

Where should I enroll my child?

An article in the New York Times finds that the gap between urban and suburban graduations rates is astounding.
"...the average high school graduation rate in the nation’s 50 largest cities was 53 percent, compared with 71 percent in the suburbs."

So, if you had a choice, where would you want your child?

Problem is, most low-income parents don't have that choice.

Housing developments and low-income housing are usually concentrated in the city. Even if they weren't, it's often harder for families to choose to move to suburban areas due to their lack of transportation.

I hear a lot of judgment in our urban communities by people outside of the communities about what parents should/shouldn't be doing. But let me challenge that thinking.

If a parent has gone through an urban school, they are likely one of the statistics cited above. If they are one of the statistics that came out of the failed urban school systems, they likely don't have a level of education that allows them to move into high level jobs that would pay better, create benefits that would allow them to take paid vacation days to see to the needs of their child, and provide healthcare for them and their children that would create a healthier home.

A lower level of education also probably means that they may not be able to help their children with their academic needs...and are often embarrassed to admit this to their children, the school, or other people who may be able to help.

Going on these statistics, an average of 47% *did* graduate. Graduating doesn't always mean academically prepared. I know many people who have graduated from urban schools, yet still can't read or write. I can think of at least four right now. So, although there may be a 47% graduation rate, even less may be prepared to be successful in the workplace.

The majority of parents I've met are trying.

Unfortunately, they are stuck in a system that isn't providing them or their children a way out.

We can blame the parents for their parenting skills, their inability to help their children, their unwillingness to attend our meetings. But blame gets us nowhere. What are we doing to help the children? What are we doing to help ensure the next generation is able to be different?

"Blaming others conveniently lets us off the hook." ~Jawanza Kunjufu
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