Monday, October 29, 2007

Academy Awards for Education

You only need to look at the numbers of students who are NOT graduating within our major urban districts to recognize that there is a real problem. From The Disputed Truth Afrosphere Blog:

"I recently came across some statistics that seemed unbelievable to me in America. It appears that in 10 of our largest cities the public school systems are graduating less than half of their students. That is correct they will graduate less than 50% of their students. According to the report compiled by EPE Research and published in the USA Today, there are 14 school districts that graduate less than 50% of their students. This should be a national emergency; except for one small caveat the majority of students in these schools are minorities."

He's right, it should be a national emergency, but since it's not, it should at least be on our radar as an issue worthy of African-Americans collective attention. The graduation rate for students entering 9th grade in Houston is 48.9%! That's appalling any way you look at it, but many of us aren't looking at it at all.

The issue is that many of our students are so far behind, especially in regard to reading comprehension, math, science, and technology that it is simply not possible to get them caught up through your typical school day format. However, computer and internet technology provides a means to increase students time on task, both during and after school, giving them a chance to catch up, in addition to providing alternative educational delivery vehicles for those students who, for whatever reason, have difficulty learning in the traditional classroom setting.

So while I know it's usually all about marketing when a big multinational like Intel promotes an effort of this sort, I can't help but think they're doing the right thing in spite of themselves.

It's not often that educators are hailed as celebrities, escorted by limousine from the airport to a black-tie reception, and given an awards banquet held in their honor.

But for one night, at least, winners of the 2007 Intel Schools of Distinction Awards--which recognize K-12 schools for their exceptional use of technology to enhance math and science education--got a taste of what it's like to be treated as royalty.

"We want them to feel like stars, because they are," said Craig R. Barrett, chairman of the board for Intel Corp. "This is the Academy Awards for education."

We need more activities and honors of this sort highlighting innovation and achievement in education. I'd really like to hear in particular about innovations in minority districts and schools. This issue is near and dear to me because these kids are our future, and at this point, we are failing them.

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