Monday, March 31, 2008

Channeling anger to benefit the community

I received this email from one of our college students. I thought it was powerful that despite her hectic schedule and her own fight to overcome her own learning disability, she sees the need to give back to a community similar to the one where she grew up. I love her attitude, her passion, and the way she is channeling her anger.

I bolded a statement in her email to which I think we should all listen closer.

Hi Ms. Janet,

I became a mentor for this seventh grade girl at DESA middle school and it's hard work trying to get these kids to think about their future. They only know what they see at home and around them and are so ignorant to the potential and possibility that education brings. When I've talked to her it's like seeing myself in 6th grade, clueless,not interested in the possibilities that education brings. Public education is truly failing kids in the inner city and it angers me that people are so indifferent to it. Anyway, let me get off of my soapbox, I just wanted to say Hello and thank you for being one who cares. I'm doing fine, school continues to be hard but I guess from now on that's the way I'll have to play the game, and mentoring has really made me aware of one of the reasons why anger is a gift that I have managed to turn into a positive driving force to get to this goal that I have made for myself. life is good.

So, lucky for me, classes have slowed down a little and by a little I mean I can at least write this e-mail without thinking that I'm cutting into my study time. I don't know if I got the hang of it, but it's become a way of life not having a life that is. I get up at 8 in the morning and go directly to my desk and study until 1 or 2 am everyday. Having this ADHD problem has helped me grow and try to refine my concentration. I try not to think about how much of an easier time others in my class are having with the material and it no longer is a competition. I think before the anger was directed at being competitive but it kind of finally hit me that I am in an incredible position to make a difference and that brings me more satisfaction than beating classmates in some recalling exam. I am learning because learning is one of the most rewarding things for me and if it takes me longer or I fail then even then learning has not ceased and I am ok with that now. Becoming the best physician for my patients is all that matters to me now and if it doesn't reflect on some exam then it only means that I'm still growing.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Communities "with promise"

Close your eyes for a minute. What comes to mind when you think of "at-risk"... at-risk schools, at-risk kids, at-risk communities?

What does the community look like?

What are the schools like?

The families?

The homes?

The initiative of the people?

What did you see??

I have never liked the term "at-risk." It implies negative all around. It is a term that addresses the deficits of people and places. It is self-defeatist.

"At-risk" advertises an uphill battle that is too difficult and too overwhelming to win and focuses people on looking for the negative.

What if, instead, I used the word "promising" or "with promise?"

I don't know about you, but for me that conjures up a completely different image. Sure, it's only semantics, but it changes the focus. People and communities "with promise" allow me to think about the possibilities. neighborhoods...working people...engaged kids and parents...clean stores...working street lights....

There are possibilities in a "promising" neighborhood.

"Promising" is what came to mind as I watched the video below. John Carter noticed that kids and parents in the Turner Courts neighborhood had promise. He, therefore, founded The Turner Twelve, a group of twelve students he follows from 6th grade through college. His first group is in college...and now helping with the second group of twelve.

In a promising community, we recognize that there are many more than twelve who are capable of making the same types of achievement.

Watch the video. I think you'll be impressed.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Revealing our inner thoughts

Pretty much the only thing I like to shop for are books. I could browse a bookstore for hours. Any other stores--clothing, grocery, trinket, or otherwise--pretty much drive me nuts.

So, it made sense that as I waited on my friend to make her purchase in World Market, I stumbled across a book.

It was a book of photography by Fredric Roberts. I was immediately drawn in to the colorful photographs of people. Their faces...the captured moments... the look in their eyes... There was something about the way he took the pictures...

I love taking pictures of people and seeking out new ideas for how to take them so I flipped slowly through the book studying the angles and the composition. I wondered what kind of lens I would need to capture the brilliance of color he captured. I tried to figure out exactly what it was that made his pictures so spectacular.

After slowly browsing through the book, I turned back to the beginning and decided to read the introduction by Arthur Ollman, the Director of the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego:

...He has recognized much of himself in the people he photographs. He sees them as his equal or even as his teachers. It is common for traveling photographers to "shoot down the social ladder." We have all seen the sad eyed children, the breastfeeding mother sitting in the dust of some underdeveloped, hopeless place. The photographer often feels he has in some way helped that individual by recognizing their plight. It is easier to see "the other" as victim than it is to see beyond the cliche. Roberts, however, uses the camera as a sort of scale. The subject, in the balance, is equal to the photographer and by extension to the viewer. What we see in the end is not something exotic as we might expect, but rather another version of someone not unlike ourselves.
Fredric Roberts recognizes the richness inside of the people he photographs. He recognizes that the people he photographs have something to offer and something to teach him. He discovers the wealth inside people that many miss. The photos seem to be seeking answers to his questions.

His photographs reveal a lot about him...the way he feels about people...the way he treats people...the way he interacts with people. You wouldn't think that would come across in a photo, but it does.

The way we feel about people is much more apparent than we realize.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Moving toward a more unified country

There has been much talk about Barack's speech yesterday. Radio programs, talk shows, comedy shows, political pundits....

As far as blogging goes, I know I'm already way behind in putting his speech out there. Anyone who was interested in his words or this political race in general has already heard it and heard all of the pundits talking about it over... and over... and over. But if you haven't watched it, you really should. Listen to his words and please feel free to comment.

In my mind, there's really not much more you can say. He said it best. He addressed the reality of black...and white. He addressed issues that people want to sweep under the rug and pretend aren't there.

I haven't had time to digest it all. I think there's much more to the speech than I've really had time to think about or process. But I know one thing I did get out of it...

We have to face reality. We ALL need to be a part of fixing the system. We ALL play a role. To make our communities and our society stronger we have to get started.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The power of community

Our Rochester Park "community" is growing!!

I had just gotten home from work and my phone rang telling me I had a text message:


After having a meeting with the store owners and explaining legal and appropriate practices of stores, they had stopped selling single cigarettes. Evidently, the store owners think we're no longer watching!

Despite Evette going back to work and being unable to be at some of our community meetings, she's making sure the community is staying on track!

After exchanging a few texts, Evette said she could be at the next community meeting to prepare us for the Town Hall meeting. PLUS, she said, she's bringing a friend!!


This afternoon the kids were at the After-School Academy having a "tye-dye party" as a part of their Spring Break activities. Mayrea walked in and hung out, helping out where needed.

Mayrea came to our last Town Hall meeting. After we had left the meeting, she and I talked for a little bit. She was excited about how the meeting had turned out and said she wanted to make sure and come to the next one.

She and her 13-year old son have been volunteering at the After-School Academy ever since. Seeing her excitement, I also talked to her about brainstorming our Community Clean-up project idea for this summer. She immediately agreed to help out.


Ms. Lori came to prepare lunch for the kids today. Lori has become an amazing force in the community.

Lori's neighbor, Rochelle, had come to check on her two boys in the After-School Academy. When she walked in, Sylvia and Lori immediately started asking her about attending the next community meeting.

As Rochelle hesitated and tried to come up with excuses, Lori explained to her that she just needs to take the first step and it would be easier after that. Lori went on explaining that her own reason for getting involved was because she "didn't have anything better to do" and "might as well." (and we are so glad that has been the case!)

Lori finally told Rochelle she may have to just go grab her and drag her out to the next meeting. That seemed an acceptable solution to Rochelle.

You know, sometimes we need a friend/a neighbor to stand alongside us for support...sometimes we need them to "drag" us. That's what COMMUNITY is all about. Community is about support. Community is about holding each other accountable. Community is sometimes pushing people into things they don't think they want to be involved in because they can't yet see the benefit.


After I went back to the office, I heard a loud knock at the door. Mr. Rhodes was just passing by on his way to pick up his wife.

When I answered the door, he simply said, "I can't stay, but I wanted to give you this."

He handed me a complete CD recording of our last Town Hall meeting! "Listen to it. I think you'll find some interesting things to take notes on."

Mr. Rhodes is an asset. He's lived in the community for 60+ years and is often so frustrated with the lack of progress over the years that he has a hard time wanting to get involved again. But he has a desire and a passion to document what happens in South Dallas.

Because of him, we just may have a way to document the little and big successes of the residents of Rochester Park!


Just the other day Sylvia excitedly told me how Ms. Haynes began helping Mr. Williams learn how to use the computer.

That doesn't sound like much until you realize that less than a year ago Ms. Haynes had no idea what "Google" was. As a result of coming to the Educational Outreach Center every day it's open, she has learned how to "surf the 'net" and many other things on the computer. Now she is beginning to teach others.

Ms. Haynes has also come to some of our community meetings. Both she and Mr. Williams have been a part of our Town Hall meetings and utilize the Educational Outreach Center's computer lab now on a regular basis.

People are coming together! People are beginning to see the value in each other! People are beginning to see how they can effect change in the community.


Sunday, March 09, 2008

Changing the face of education

After reading the How many billionaires does it take to fix a school system, I began thinking...

If someone gave me $2 billion to fix the schools, how would I suggest it be used?

First of all, $2 billion is peanuts compared to what it would take to reform our school system...but I think the decision to invest in the education system and change it to become more effective can happen as a result of people making decisions to invest their money. ...but I think they need to do it differently than has been done in the past.

To use $2 billion for new "programs" is not productive and will not change the system long term. If we're talking "programs," I would love to see more efforts put into college and post-secondary preparation, financial literacy, more openings for preschool, and ensuring children (even the most "problem" children) get the help they need so that they can learn to reading, 'riting, and 'rithmetic before they get so far behind that they can't catch up.

But I have a different idea.

Hire parents to be "think tanks" and implementers.

Pay a core group of parents to be in the schools. Hire them to be community organizers. Talk to them. Seek understanding of the realities of their community...their kids' lives...their access to resources. Work *with* them to come up with solutions. Create job descriptions, train them and expect of them just as you would other staff members.

We hear the research all the time. Parents are vital to the success of their children. I've even read research that says when parents...even of other children within the school...are involved, performance of all children increases.

Our world has changed over the last 30 years. There are more single parents...more parents who have to work longer hours...more parents who have a hard time taking off during the day to have a parent-teacher conference, deliver items to the school, or show up at PTA meetings.

Parents are perfect connectors to the community. They know the kids. They know the parents. They know the realities of what is feasible and what isn't. They know the excuses, but they also know what isn't an excuse and what is real. They have expections. They know what they (and others) want for their children.

Parents are valuable. We need them. And many of them are working in jobs that don't allow them to be involved. Other parents aren't involved because of their own fears or intimidation of the school system due to them having the same type of experiences their kids are having.

Our schools cannot be left up to the millionaires and billionaires to decide what's best. No matter how much "experience" they have with running successful businesses or investing their money. The realities of our low-income, low-performing schools face are much different than the realities of billionaires.

The answers...and the capacity...lie in the communities where the public schools exist and from the people whose children attend there.

Unifying faith

I grew up thinking that my religion...was the only "right" religion.

I knew I was a Christian because I went to church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I had all of my dogma down. As a teenager, I argued with friends over the fact that God created the earth in seven, 24-hour days and I argued that evolution was wrong and didn't exist. I was a good, moral person and very adamant about my beliefs.

Then I went off to college.

I began seeing the world.

I was thrown for a loop when I took communion at a church in Italy and they had wine instead of grape juice! (I had always been taught that any kind of alcohol was sinful!)

When I did an internship in Chicago, I was dumbfounded at the faith of recovering alcoholics who followed the 12-step program better than I followed my Bible...and who truly believed in a "Power greater than themselves."

When I went to Africa, I was taken aback when members of the church walked in, kneeled at the front, and made a "sign of the cross" just like Catholics.

When I moved to Boston, I had to re-evaluate my beliefs as women played important roles in the church.

Yet, no matter who they were, or how they worshipped, I began to see that people had a deep faith. I came to the conclusion that faith was more about actions and interactions than it was about dogma. I recognized that their faith may not be the way I profess my faith and that they may not call their "higher power" God like I do, but we all believe in something greater than ourselves...and what we believe in impacts the way we live.

I came to the conclusion that "different" didn't mean "wrong."

It's exciting to me to think that we can unite knowing that we all have "faith" in matter how we choose to celebrate that faith. Faith that drives a people leads to good things--whether Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, etc. We are not that different.

The Baha'i faith has recognized this and has begun sponsoring Sunday School classes that do just that...bring people of different religions together to learn from each other and learn with each other about virtues. You can read/listen to the segment here: Class Teaches Virtues to Children of Many Faiths.

So many times, I think we bring up economic, racial, religious differences and we talk about "tolerance." I think we need to do more than "tolerate" one another. I have hope that classes like these would take people from "tolerance" and move us toward appreciation and acceptance.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Education becomes relevant

As I mentioned in the last post, Jose didn't like school and didn't see it as relevant to his life. I wish I could pinpoint why and figure out exactly what point he (and others) began feeling this way so we could know what to do and when. Jose is not the only one.

Alan and Juan are two other teenagers who feel the same way. Their two sisters are in college and doing well. Juan would be a senior this year but he quit school last year. Alan is a sophomore and is contemplating the same.

Alan and his sister stopped by the other day.

I began questioning Alan about school and got what I've come to expect from him...the "Awww,-Miss-Janet!-Do-we-have-to-talk-about-this-again??" look.

Knowing his feelings about school, I continued to ask questions...hoping to tap into something that could potentially inspire him.

"What do you like to do?"

"Art," he answered. "I love graffiti art."

After we established that he wasn't "tagging" anything, I remembered an email I had received about local and somewhat unknown inner city artists who would be displaying their work throughout Pleasant Grove. I passed the information along and began suggesting to Alan that he stay in school, then go to college for an art degree.

We talked about fine arts and graphic design (which is about the limit of my art degree knowledge). I suggested he look into the Art Institute and see what they offer. I wanted him to start thinking about possibilities of furthering his talent and his education within his realm of interest.

It always amazes me how much kids listen.

Just yesterday I was talking with his other sister (not the one who came with him to my house). As I asked about her brothers, she explained, "Miss Janet, ever since you mentioned to Alan that he could get an art degree in college, he's been looking into it!" She went on to tell me he really doesn't want to take all of the other classes (the "basics"), but she and her sister have been talking to him about getting those basics done so he can then go on and get the art degree he wants. She said he seems to be really receptive to it and continues to look into different options! She is just as excited about it as I am!

It seems to me that our government and our country has done such a good job of turning our inner city schools into testing centers so irrelevant to our world that kids can't see the connection of education to anything they really enjoy. Even if they can't see the direct connection, it seems to me that once they realize education can be a means to an end, they are much more willing to endure the "means" so they can get to their "end."

Until we can change the system, I think it's our job to have conversations with kids and teenagers and do what we can to connect them to their interests, help them see how important education is, and help them realize how education connects to their interests.

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 that kids don't continue to end up in Jose's situation.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Real democracy

I let my graduate class out early last night and raced to my Texas precint hoping I wouldn't be too late to caucus. I shouldn't have worried.

When I arrived a little after 7:00 the line was long. (How exciting! ...I had experienced a line when I early voted as well...the first time that has ever happened in my voting experiences). Despite the slightly chilly weather and two-inch heeled boots I had on, I was happy to stand. Seeing people wanting to get involved in the democratic process gave me energy...a pride in democracy that I didn't know I had.

I moved back in line to stand with a friend that I never knew lived just a few blocks from me(amazing how democracy brings us together! :) ). As we waited, we wondered what it meant to "caucus." We pieced our knowledge together and decided to get more involved by attempting to become delegates.

Sign in was slow. Once we finally made it to the door, signed in, and ultimately sat down to wait some more, we realized that although our knowledge of the process wasn't very polished, the people in charge weren't much more knowledgeable than we were. We were all in the room learning together. Though I made snide comments about how little the people in charge knew, I still had to marvel at the fact that anyone and everyone--educated or not--was included in the process.

Finally, around 8:15 or so, a lady got everyone's attention to inform us that 207 people had signed in--158 for Barack and 49 for Hillary. Therefore, Barack would receive 18 delegates and Hillary would receive 6 delegates. If we were interested in being a delegate, we could stay and caucus; if not, we were free to go. (Basically, it seems, if you have enough gumption to return to put your name on the list a second time, you get a say so in the number of delegates a candidate receives).

In a somewhat unorganized and semi-undemocratic way (we were all trying to figure out the best way to make this work), several of us put our names down on a sheet saying we would be delegates. I think there was supposed to be a vote...but by that time the pool of people had narrowed and few were left in the room.

My friend, Monica, became a delegate for Hillary and I became a delegate for Barack. They asked for resolutions. I don't think any of us really knew what to "resolute." One man attempted a resolution (which sounded more like a list of why Bush shouldn't be in office anymore...but, who knows...maybe that is what resolutions are). After a near scuffle because they told him they couldn't add it...then a readjusted statement to say that he had to write it down for it to be added to the minutes...they asked for "amendments." Since he didn't re-state it or read what he had written, none of us "amended." I can only hope that I agree with what he said (proof that Iraq's democratic process is not the only one that needs work!)

Primaries and caucusing have seemed to create a new excitement among a lot of people. As I left around 9:00 I began returning calls of several friends and family who were curious to hear my experience with the "Texas Two Step."

As I've thought about my experience last night, I've decided I wholeheartedly agree with Michelle Obama when she said, "For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country." For the first time, it seems that average people feel like they have a voice and a role in this election. Yesterday, people I would've never expected were calling me asking about where to vote and how to caucus. Last night, polling places were overwhelmed in a way they had never been before.

I believe the closeness of the race has done that, but I also believe Barack has inspired that in people. His message is not just about bringing the congress together to create bi-partisan support for's not just about talking to foreign leaders we agree's not just about the top people making decisions for's not about the President and Congress becoming dictators of the's about all of us talking, listening, and working together for change in a way that will benefit everyone!! Now THAT'S an America I can be proud of!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Inspiring inspiration

Several people have asked me to justify my support for Obama. Like many other people, I get caught up in his speeches; I think he is an amazing orator.

But, as I watched this video, I realized what it is I really like about Obama. It's not what Obama's speeches do for me, it's what they do to me.

Obama inspires.

It's not a passive inspiration. People don't sit on the sidelines and watch him in awe. This video was made because of the way Obama's message resonated with them. It is not a political ad paid for Obama. It is not for sale. It is a video made up of a bunch of people who came together because they believe in Obama's message and they want others to hear it as well.

Obama inspires inspiration.

He inspires people to come together...spontaneously. He inspires people of all ethnicities and cultures to come together. He inspires creativity and creative solutions. He inspires people to believe in our democracy. He inspires people to believe in our country in a way that brings us *together* with other parts of the world. He inspires people to believe that WE can make change in our neighborhood, our city, our state, and our country.

Obama inspires hope... in a way that isn't blindly optimistic. He inspires hope because he understands that hope is what happens because you've gone through hard times.

Obama inspires unity...from all races, ethnicities, gender, sexual orientation, religions, and languages. He makes our country reflect the world...which is what our country professed to do in the beginning...but Obama makes that visible.

Obama inspires patriotism...because the inspiration, hope, and unity he inspires helps me recognize that we do live in a great country.

I support Obama because he makes me recognize that I am a part of the solution, not part of the problem.

See this site for the video and's explanation for writing the song:

Saturday, March 01, 2008

College (un)readiness--what's wrong with this picture?

Our kids are going to school for 13 years of their lives thinking that by the time they finish high school they, at the very minimum, will be prepared to function adequately in their world.

However, many of them have much higher ambitions. They want to attend college. It's the natural next step...and these days high school is no longer enough.

Unfortunately, the reality is, many of our kids are not being adequately prepared in the schools they attend. As they move into the college process, they don't have the education needed to succeed. Thus, many of the students are required to take "developmental" courses. Reading, Writing, and Math courses that are below college level. Courses that cost money that financial aid sometimes won't pay for (depending on the school). Courses that gain them absolutely no credit toward a degree, but take time to complete...sometimes several semesters depending on how far behind the student is.

Many of the students in these situations are not likely to complete college due to many different factors anyway. Add to that 1 or 2 semesters of college that cost money but don't even count?!...Kids get discouraged and decide there are better and quicker ways to begin making money.

We can spend time blaming this lack of adequate education on parents, teachers, government, or whoever we'd like. But the bottom line is that our children are suffering. We are the people. We have a democratic society. We have to stand up and speak out.

We need to help our children.

Read the report below for the facts in Massachusetts...and realize that the facts are probably the same or even more striking in Dallas.

Our children need ADVOCATES...and they need to be taught to advocate! We need to connect people in power with the voices of the children and the families who expereince these situations so that the laws that are created, the funding that is cut, the resources that are deemed "unnecessary" don't adversely affect those who are the most vulnerable. I don't believe that this lack of education is happening "despite our best efforts." I know we can do more. If you visit one of our urban schools and compare it to a suburban school in the same area, I think you will agree.

State report shows many students are not ready for college
By Rodrique Ngowi
The Boston Globe / February 28, 2008

BOSTON—Massachusetts may have one of the highest rates of students going to college, but the first statewide "school-to-college" report shows that 37 percent of public high school graduates who go for public higher education may not be ready.

The joint report released Thursday by the Massachusetts Department of Education and Board of Higher Education analyzed the performance of the class of 2005 and showed that students lagging behind needed remedial courses in college.

State education officials say about 80 percent of Massachusetts high school students go to college. The report found that more students from low-income families, some racial and ethnic minorities, those who do not speak English as their first language, and those who receive special education services in high school go to community colleges -- where most of them need remedial academic help. Remedial courses add to the cost and time it takes to graduate, increasing their likelihood of dropping out, the report said.

Higher education officials were not surprised by the finding, saying they hope the report leads to new efforts to help students.

"This reports what we've known anecdotally for some time, and that is there are certain groups of students that, despite our best efforts, are still not graduating from high school ready to pursue college-level work immediately," said Eileen O'Connor, spokeswoman for the Board of Higher Education.

Acting Commissioner of the Department of Education Jeffrey Nellhaus said: "We hope that the data in this report serves as a catalyst for steps to be taken statewide to improve the academic preparation and performance of the Commonwealth's public school students."

Key findings in the report:

--African American students, Hispanic students, low-income students, those who were not fluent in English and those receiving special education services in high school were more likely to enroll at a community college. Asians were more likely to enroll at a state university.

--About 65 percent of students enrolled in a community college took at least one remedial course, as did 22 percent of students at state colleges and 8 percent of students at state university campuses.

--About 63 percent of students who received special education services in high school needed remedial courses, as did 59 percent of African Americans, 59 percent of Hispanics, 52 percent of those from low-income families and 50 percent of those with limited English proficiency.

--Fifty percent of students who scored as needing improvement on the Grade 10 Math MCAS exam enrolled in remedial math in college.