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Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Neighborhoods matter.

A big part of the reason why is that good neighborhoods usually have better schools.

 

This story by The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb is great not only because it expertly chronicles the demise of what was once an academically excellent school in Queens, NY, but also because Cobb takes a deeper look at what really happens to a community when a school closes. Schools are so much more than just a place to learn. For many kids who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, school can also be a place to network; a place to help launch the students out of their current situations. Take the school away and what do you have left? One less opportunity for an at-risk youth to network their way out of poverty.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There are principals, and then there's Diedre Zockheem.

She's the principal at Myers Elementary, the low-income school featured in our State of Opportunity documentary The Education Gap

I've interviewed Zockheem dozens of times over the last nine months and every time she tells me some story that reminds me a) how tough these kids have it, and b) how dedicated Zockheem is to helping them.

She's been principal at Myers for eight years. She’s just about the most stable thing this school has going for it. There's an incredibly high teacher turnover rate at Myers, and issues of domestic violence, mental illness, and drug abuse plague the families at her school.