by Gretchen Logue of Missouri Education Watchdog
“Boys Hope Girls Hope” is a program in St. Louis and other cities designed to help at risk students. The St. Louis Post Dispatch recently ran an article explaining how the privately funded program works and the enormous commitment needed from the students and families so students succeed in school.
What I didn’t read in the article that made kids successful were the following talking points from the Obama administration on how education needs to be reformed:
- The need for global competitiveness
- Common Core standards
- Race to the Top funding
- The need to be tracked into the workforce via Longitudinal Data Systems
- The need for charter schools
- The need to track teachers via assessment scoring to determine if they are effective
According to the article, what helped make these students successful in school were:
- Structured daily life
- Two hours of study each night
- Dinner at a family type setting
- Weekly chores
- A designated bed time
- No tolerance for disrespect
- Mentors providing academic support, tutoring, and serving as role model
- Every student is required to attend some kind of worship service weekly and prayer is said before dinner
The article states the program moves students into an environment that encourages development, promotes scholarly ways. Some of those in the organization also believe an active faith life is essential to healthy personal development.
Are these the magic keys for education reform? Students learn to take control of their own development on educational and emotional levels. If so, do any of the current educational reforms mandated by the government incorporate these successful methods by “Boys Hope Girls Hope”? Or are they reforms designed to track children for the workforce and create jobs for private corporations funded by taxpayers that are then unaccountable to the taxpayers?
Last year, the Boys Hope Girls Hope organization was named by the Educational Policy Institute as one of 10 exemplary programs in the U.S. that prepare students for college.
In Boys Hope Girls Hope, all of the more than 3,000 students in the last 20 years who stuck with the program have graduated from high school, and 79 percent of those students have either completed their college degrees or are on course to do so.
The success comes from what the organization calls “arms around care.” The organization picks up the tab for food, clothing, transportation and any other needs of the students, including college. Costs per student can go as high as $50,000.
How can the government create a nurturing and structured environment for students? Is this what a private group can accomplish that the bureaucracy cannot? Local, state and federal governments are systems. Systems are designed for efficiency (since when is a government system efficient?) and are not designed for personal needs. What these students in the STL Post Dispatch article were missing were people in their lives unable to attend to the students’ financial and/or emotional needs. College money may be available due to a federal program in the future, but if the student is not prepared emotionally and educationally, college entrance is meaningless if the student is unable to perform well.
If a nurturing and structured environment is important in student success, how can the government mandate loving, caring, stable, and attentive parents and/or other adults to tend to their children? Do any of the current reforms allude to the important aspect parents and other caring adults play in their childrens’ lives? Can governments mandate parents or other adults care and become responsible for their children?
The title of the Dispatch article, Havens for Learning, says it all. Much of what creates student opportunity for educational excellence is to provide a haven for children which traditionally has been a family’s responsibility. That’s what’s missing from these billion programs, isn’t it?
If you agree the Boys Hope Girls Hope is a valid recipe for educational success and you believe it is government’s job to educate children, then the government’s only logical choice is to use this recipe to ensure educational success for failing students. Otherwise, if CCSSI and RTTT are the government’s idea for educational success, without the parental/adult support, they will be useless and expensive mandates doomed to fail.