Friday, August 24, 2012

Education - Different Stories

I grew up in West Lafayette, Indiana - living a few blocks from Purdue University. My high school was and is an "excellent" high school. Having a high percentage of Purdue University faculty members' children as well as the children of doctors, lawyers and successful business people the children of "normal" or "poor" families stand out.

Most recent demographic statistics:


show that the students are: 66.0% White, 20.6% Asian-American, 4.7% Hispanic, 4.3% Black and 4.2% Multi-Ethnic. 87.1% of the students bring their own lunches or pay full prices for school lunches while 10.5% get free lunches and 2.4% get reduced prices for lunches at school.

Chicago Public Schools in contrast show:

(See: )

44.1% Latino Students, 41.6% Black, 8.8% White, and 3.4% Asian/Pacific Islander as well as 87% low income students.

Of Chicago's approximately 92 public high schools: White Students, approximately 10,000 of 113,873 total secondary students are disproportionately in:

5 Selective Enrollment Schools:

Lane Tech = 1294 (29.8% of the students)
Whitney Young = 652 (29.4%)
Northside = 450 (41.9%)
Payton = 321 (37.2%)
Jones = 253 (28.3%)
= 2970

Taft High School (in a heavily White Area) has 1785 White students, which is 48.9% of its 3137 total student body. Additionally Lincoln Park High School - in a very, very upper-middle class area has about 628 White students (27.6% of its student body)

5383 White Students - over half of the total White high school students attend 7 schools. These schools schools have low income rates from 30.9% to 58.3% at Lane Tech (which has 46.7% Hispanic students).

The remaining approximately 85 high schools average approximately 5% White Students and their average low income rate must be almost 90%.

Of the other schools:

Corliss = 569 students = 90.2% low income, 97.5% Black
Curie = 3078 students = 91.3% low income, 82.7% Hispanic and 10.4% Black
Dunbar = 1331 students = 94.4% low income, 97.9% Black
Foreman = 1586 = 84.5% low income, 78.3% Hispanic, 16.3% Black
Hubbard = 1673 = 95.3% low income, 85.8% Hispanic, 6.5% Black
Juarez = 1818 = 95.2% low income, 93.8% Hispanic
Kelly = 2722 = 94.9% low income, 83.2% Hispanic, 11.4% Asian
King College Prep = 949 = 73.3% low income, 91.9% Black
Youth Connection Charter = 1978 = 87.4% low income, 72.9% Black, 24.4% Hispanic

are a sampling, mostly of some of the larger schools.

In Chicago most of the "outstanding" students either go to private schools or "escape" neighborhood schools where they come from poor families for the few top Chicago public schools.

To expect that both students and teachers will "succeed" in schools where 90% of the children are low income and nearly all the students are not only poor, but also minority students seems extremely naive.

Perhaps - if such students had a new swimming pool to replace the old one, and many of the other facilities that are the norm at West Lafayette High School some of the students might do a little better. More problematic are how one can teach and learn where most of the students enter high school far, far, far, far behind in reading and in basic academic knowledge.

I saw a very nice video put out by my alma mater about its academic outlook. While I agree with what it said, its words would be irrelevant to so many in our country who teach and learn in schools facing a different world of poverty, generally under-funded schools, and low expectations for all.

The "successes" of people such as Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children's Zone demonstrate NOT that "poor children can be successful" (which is certainly true!) but rather how complex it is to be successful and how many Great Leaders and a lot of money is required to really build "equality" as I, at least, want.

Many who came out of West Lafayette are incredibly successful in their careers! They also have a lot of things going for them, that most others don't have, particularly those growing up poor, amongst other poor people.


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