Education

Education, schools, and learning

Alan / flickr

High school graduations are about a month away. Orders for caps and gowns have been made, and party planning is well under way for many families. Around 10 percent of senior students in Michigan won't make it to that milestone this year, however, because they drop out of school.

Mark Stosberg / flickr

I will be so happy when I don't have to start a story about college with what feels like this obligatory fact: Going to college makes climbing up that economic ladder a lot more likely.

Andrea Claire Maio

Mister Knight’s Neighborhood introduced us to two students at Cody High School: 15-year-old Kaylan and 16-year-old Kevin. Both students are on the brink, and trying to make it to graduation.

 

But one is having a much harder time.

Andrea Claire Maio

Cody High School is on Detroit’s west side, in a neighborhood that struggles with blight, drugs and gangs.

As Cody football coach Jimmie Knight says, "everybody wants to be out the neighborhood ... but more people still stuck here than ever."

So how do you get out? Well, first you have to graduate high school. For students who are on the brink, that’s where Knight comes in. He grew up in the Cody neighborhood, and moved back several years ago to help kids from the neighborhood graduate and find a way out.

Mister Knight's Neighborhood: Coach Knight from Apiary Projects on Vimeo.

Today marks the premier of Jennifer Guerra's documentary, Mister Knight's Neighborhood. Listen to it on air at 3:o0 p.m. and 10:00 p.m or find it here.

Cody High School is on Detroit’s west side, in a neighborhood that struggles with blight, drugs and gangs.

KNIGHT: Everybody wants to be out the neighborhood, everybody do. But more people still stuck here than ever.

So how do you get out? Well, first you have to graduate high school. For students who are on the brink, that’s where this guy comes in. His name is Jimmie Knight:

Joanne Johnson / Flickr

Many colleges are making more of an effort to support students who come from foster care. But Professor Angelique Day says that’s way too late for most kids, since half of all kids in foster care don’t even graduate from high school.

LBJ Library photo by Frank Wolfe

Fifty years ago this week, President Lyndon Johnson sat down at a table in Texas to sign one of the most important pieces of education legislation in the history of the U.S. You may never have heard of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act by name, but it undoubtedly affected your life.

Like most pieces of landmark legislation, the ESEA had many components, and those components have been amended over time. But at its heart, the ESEA was about using the power (and the purse) of the federal government to create more equity among the nation's schools. Johnson conceived it as part of his War on Poverty. It also became a key milestone in the civil rights movement. 

Johnson signed the law outside a schoolhouse where he had been a student. In his remarks that day, he did not mince words about what he hoped the law could achieve:

As the son of a tenant farmer, I know that education is only valid in its passport from poverty, the only valid passport. As a former teacher – and I hope a future one – I have great expectations of what this law will mean for all our young people. As president of the United States, I believe deeply no law I have signed or will ever sign means more to the future of America.

And if you've never heard of the ESEA by name, you might know it by the name it was given in 2002, during its most recent reauthorization: The No Child Left Behind Act. 

user alamosbasement / flickr

America is becoming less equal.

That much is now widely acknowledged.

But what can be done to improve things for the next generation?

We’ve been doing this work on State of Opportunity for nearly three years now. If there’s one thing I’ve heard over and over about how to help kids get ahead, it’s this: Education is the key.

"Once you’ve made it to college and graduated, your social mobility opportunities are great," said Fabian Pfeffer.

"Putting people into more post-secondary education would strongly promote their mobility," said Erin Currier.

"We’re talking about producing skills," said James Heckman. "Skills are the core of the modern economy."

If you want a good job, you have to have skills. If you want skills, you have to have education. That’s pretty uncontroversial.

But then I came across the work of this guy:

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Chamonique Griffith stands in front of her second-graders on a Thursday morning, about to try something that, for her, is new.

"How many of you know that I go to class at night?" she asks.  

Her second graders all quietly raise their hands.

"So, last night, I got to do a really cool activity with my teacher," Griffith continues, "and so I wanted to try the activity with you."

Griffith is part of the first cohort of teachers in a new college of education at Davenport University in Grand Rapids. This college is focused entirely on preparing teachers for urban classrooms. The students enrolled in the master's level program, for now, are all currently teaching at Grand Rapids Public Schools.

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