Monday, May 19, 2014

Who Gets to Graduate?

On Sundays I love to play tennis and read the New York Times. There was a great article this past Sunday. Author Paul Tough shares some sobering statistics about who is graduating with four year degrees, who isn’t, and why.

You must read the whole article. Go and do that now. My big takeaways: remedial classes and groups don’t work and students in some demographic groups (low-income, non-white, parents who didn’t graduate from college) are at risk but can be helped. It isn’t really new information. It is just more evidence supporting certain ideas.  I want to know how we can apply this to K-12 public schools.

Every college freshman — rich or poor, white or minority, first-generation or legacy — experiences academic setbacks and awkward moments when they feel they don’t belong. But white students and wealthy students and students with college-graduate parents tend not to take those moments too seriously or too personally...It is only students facing the particular fears and anxieties and experiences of exclusion that come with being a minority — whether by race or by class — who are susceptible to this problem. Those students often misinterpret temporary setbacks as a permanent indication that they can’t succeed or don’t belong…

“What I like about these interventions is that the kids themselves make all the tough choices,” ... “They deserve all the credit. We as interveners don’t. And that’s the best way to intervene. Ultimately a person has within themselves some kind of capital, some kind of asset, like knowledge or confidence. And if we can help bring that out, they then carry that asset with them to the next difficulty in life.”