I want to believe we are better than this.
“So wait, y’all just going to leave this lady out here with no clothes on?” said Imamu Baraka, referring to a dazed woman wearing only a thin hospital gown and socks whom they had left alone at a bus stop Tuesday night in mid-30s temperatures. Her face appeared bloody, her eyes empty.
The entire, sad story is here.
Randal Jelks pointed to an interesting article from the New York Times on New York’s elite schools, highlighting the terribly small admission of African Americans. 14. The number is shocking. As he notes, the problem is not simply there on Manhattan, but also here on the banks of the Grand. Do our magnet schools, specifically City, suffer from the same disease? Or more accurately, do they function as a distraction from the point. As he notes:
(The magnet schools have) never been about the intellectual development of Black and Brown children who now make over 69% of the school district. Now mind you need middle class parents of all stripes in the GRPS, but not at the expense of majority the population. Too much excuse making in my opinion and reinforcement of race and class segregation with white folk being the power brokers
Perhaps. This does seem to to pit the middle class against the needs by race. This may miss the issues of class. As Jelks alludes to, numerous studies not that it is poverty, not race which correlates with achievement. Moreover, achievement for low income students rises when they have the chance to be economically integrated; middle class engagement by parents and stakeholders is critical for the overall health of the schools.
Add to these observations the conditions at hand in our city. Of the total school age population in the city, Grand Rapids Public Schools gets slightly more than half. The rest are found in charters, schools of choice transfers, and to a limited extent the parochial. Of the share of the students 72% qualify for student lunch. Note GRPS is ~ 31% white, the census school age population is roughly 35% white. So the question of uplift is less racial than economic in nature; a broader economic base gives more possibility for lifting up more students. Again, integration
And finally, there are graduation statistics released yesterday. GRPS has made decided gains in the past five years, particularly among its black and latino populations, and especially with the men. Further, the graduation rates for Innovation Central High School and Grand Rapids University Prep are both in the 90+% range, and both have more than 80% minority enrollment. These schools succeed because of stakeholder engagement, and there is simply no question that we need more of that. In short, this is not the district of 10 years ago, or even five.
Five districts in Kent County drop ball on preparing students for college — at least, according to statistics. But is that the story? Bill Vis asks,
any observations on this list?
Other than the obvious differences between suburban and core city districts?
I think this shows a pretty straight forward correlation between achievement and socio-economic status. Indirectly, you may also be seeing something of the impact of charter schools on the general school enrollments. That is, scores might be marginally higher in a number of districts were there no charters.
Raw numbers like this can also be so depressing. Often on MLive one can read a lot of “blame the victim” comments about poor lifestyle choices etc., all assumed to be behind the poverty. That, or blame the teachers.What these numbers do hide is the work of actual people in the system. There are classrooms even buildings where inspiring stories are getting made.
One of the biggest roles for the church is simply that of promoting a fundamental optimism about these schools. The parents, the teachers, the students are all in need of a basic frame, that this work matters. These are often schools that could also use a fair amount of direct love and engagement from the local church. This is another side of what it means when we say we are pro-life, that we are pro-hope, pro-possibility. Start knowing the kids, and you can’t give up.