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 Breaking the poverty curse 
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We talked a little about this the other night, but I wonder if Kozol took into account the amount of families that were like mine in these apartheid schools. How many had people within the family who "got out" of the situations that they were raised in and actually went to colleges or universities? I was the first one in my family that graduated from college. My cousin then went back and my sister graduated from CVCC with an Associates Degree and is in the process of going back to Lenoir Rhyne to get her BA in Education. The curse of poverty and illiteracy must be broken by one person. Isn't that really all that it takes...Each one, teach one...pay it forward.

Poverty is connected to monies, but I believe that we can look at that in so many different ways. We can be poor in spirit. We can be lacking in education or skills. We can also be in need of compassion. Poverty cannot not be equal to just having less money. What about the opportunity to gain or having access to what is needed to make a life for ourselves? I guess it stills goes back to power, which I believe must begin with education. If minorities get an eduation then that opens their eyes to what can be and sends them in the direction in which those newly formed desire are. The game of "keep away" has been in motion for a long time. I have what you need but I am going to make you jump threw hoops, dance around, run behind a ball, shoot a basket, sing, or entertain me before I allow you to catch the prize. Think about it. I wonder what we will be willing to do when we dangle promotion standards and graduation in the face of our students. Will we play "keep away" or freely give it out to everyone and press it upon those who we know need that step up?

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Alisa Ferguson
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Sat Jan 20, 2007 2:19 pm
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The hero in this movie is a new teacher, Mrs. Gruwell (Mrs. G), who teaches a diverse class of students. The school has oppressed them in mighty ways. The new teachers wants to teach The Diary of Anne Frank. The dept. chair refuses to give a class set of the books because the students will only abuse them and "anyway, they don't read." Mrs. G asks for "Romeo and Juliet" only to be told the same thing. She asks for back-up from another teacher only to be told in worse ways the stereotypical image of people of color.

Without giving away the movie, the gist is that the right person in the right place can make great gains.

I want to know if we as principals-in-waiting are ready to use our passion to make things better for someone.


Sat Jan 20, 2007 7:13 pm
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Kathyrn, I would only hope so....

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Amy Scronce


Sat Jan 20, 2007 8:13 pm
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I don't say much about my family's origins but I can attest to the fact that the society (the system) or whatever you want to call it does not like it when an "upstart" tries to move up. My great grandfather was a sharecropper who never owned the house he lived in. My grandfather worked in a cotton mill for forty years only to retire minus three or four of his fingers. My other grandfather was custodian at a public school for thirty some years. My own father was a high school drop out. When I was in my middle school years I talked endlessly about going to college among immediate family and extended family and friends. I was more than once told that I should look to get a good job instead. Dreaming of going to college was not realistic. If my own family and acquaintances were telling me college was a pipedream, I can only imagine how the larger society tries to pressure one to "stay in his/her proper place." But because of my own experiences I am a firm believer in the power of public education to change things. No other institution has the potential to allow someone to move beyond his own humble origins. Yet there are those who pull funding to keep everyone in his or her place.

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Sat Jan 20, 2007 9:46 pm
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John, make a book about your story. It's a powerful witness to all the many who would have no hope for themselves.


Sun Jan 21, 2007 12:31 am
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John I think you hit the mark with the book The Big Test. I did not realize that the bases for IQ test and SAT’s were to make education fair to people regardless to their finical privilege in life. Even though those tests missed the mark and are bias culturally, racially, and economically they had a noble conception except it was to limit educational access to those with the intellectual ability. I found the Big Test to be a social and cultural desegregation in education but in another aspect it created another segregated population based on a inadequate testing model and cultural biases of the day.

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Jeremiah McCluney


Mon Jan 22, 2007 11:49 am
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Yes, Jeremiah I would agree that some of their motivations were noble, yet I often shiver at the thought of anyone trying to "engineer" things so that one group of people have the advantage over others. Chauncey and company wanted the brightest (as defined by THEIR test) to be in charge of things. Where does any one human get the right to decide these things? This kind of thinking isn't far from what the Nazis thought.

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Mon Jan 22, 2007 7:31 pm
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Are you saying in essence (sp?) that we are experiencing "educational genecide" in our American schools? What a gripping headline! Maybe you should publish it!

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Rosanna Whisnant


Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:08 pm
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That is an interesting thought-Educational Genocide.

John-great story. I am sure that we would be amazed at how many people/students have similar stories...I am also the only one in my immediate family with an undergrad degree-my parents did attend trade schools and have done wery well in life-but it is because they worked hard for what they had. My mom's family lived in a rural area and worked their farm. Education was not a top priority. Once my parents moved away and were successful, there was some resentment and a feeling of "they think they are better than us..."

Students that experience this "education bashing" at an early age are basically brainwashed and unless they have a burning desire within themselves, they will find it easier to give in and believe what they are told. We as educators have to set high expectations for all students, just hoping to push those that don't get the encouragement at home.

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Leigh Anne Frye


Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:31 pm
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Same here, that is why I asked in the topic "Minorities vs. Immigrants" how many of us were 1st or 2nd generation immigrants. My grandmother was Czechoslovakian and my grandfather Yugoslavian. They met on Ellis Island and the only way they could get off was to have a spouse. No singles were allowed off during that time. Since they were both Catholic, even though they could not speak each other's language, they married rather than risk being sent back to their home country. Needless to say all Slavs - because what is the difference really - were sent by rail to work in the steel factories in South side Chicago. Talk about getting above your raising!! I am proud of my father and his family's desire to better themselves. It is there if we want it bad enough. But someone usually has to sacrifice for the rest to make it.

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Stephanie Williams


Tue Jan 30, 2007 8:56 pm
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The school needs to help break these cycles, and reach out to those families that don't know how the education works. I think many adults are embarrassed to ask for help or ask for explanations when it comes to understanding the ins and outs of the education system. We have so many confusting programs, abbreviated titles, changing standards, no wonder half the population has no real idea to how schools function. we forget to teach this to our less exposed parents.


Sun Feb 18, 2007 6:52 pm
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John, you and I share a very similar life history. I am a firm believer in the fact that a person does not have to be a product of his/her environment. If you are willing to be different, you can make a change in your life.

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BT AP
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Tue Apr 10, 2007 10:35 pm
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