Where are our priorities?

I applaud the Community-Based Classroom  in their efforts to change the lives of young people who have fallen off track.  I also applaud the students who decided to join the program to make a change in their lives.  The program is for for students between the ages of 16-21, and instead of getting a GED they receive an actual diploma from the High School the first attended.  What I do not applaud were some of the reasons why these students went off track while attending high school.

One participant, Maurice Pitts said that he joined the program after being notified that he would not be graduating from DuVal High School in 2007. Pitts said:

“CBC is like college, not high school,” he said. “They teach you a lot — how to be prepared for the world. I wasn’t getting that from the school I came from. I like the atmosphere and the way they teach you, more one-on-one.”

I wonder why Mr. Pitts was not eligible to graduate from DuVal?  Was he attending all of his classes?  Was he passing his classes?  If not, then the problem was not the school, but the choices he made while he was at DuVal that put him in his predicament.  What about the other students who graduated from DuVal and went on to college and are doing well? 

Shundrae Pope, another DuVal student, joined the program because she started skipping school during her senior year.  Pope said:

“Without CBC and a high school diploma, I would have been lost,” said Pope, who plans to attend medical school and hopes to become a pediatrician. “There aren’t a lot of people in class, so the teacher is there to help you without a lot of disruption. CBC is a good alternative.”

As I understand that smaller class sizes and teacher to student ratio is important; was Pope’s choice to skip school during her senior year because she was concerned about the student/teacher ratio?  Pope also wants to go to medical school?  Well she is going to have to go to class if she wants to  complete medical school.  Pope went on to say that:

“They provide a professional, adult atmosphere for you to learn in,” Smith said. “If you don’t want to come, you don’t come. When you come, you want to be there.”

And there is the problem;  These young people made a decision to do what they wanted to do.  You are supposed to attend school every day; it is not an option it’s mandatory.  I wonder what role the parents/guardians played in the development of their children’s education?  Was education stressed in their households at an early age? 

I applaud these young people for making the right decision to correct the problem; that is to take responsibility for their own lives, but I am not buying the excuse that they skipped school because of class sizes or that they were not learning anything in school.  In my opinion, they did not do well in High School because they made a conscience choice not to do well.  PGCPS may not be in the top 10, but they are far from the worst educational school system in the country.  I know this post may seem harsh, but I am tired of the excuses when it comes to education in black community, especially in Prince George’s County.

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