“Always Strive for excellence, no matter what you do. Excellence will overcome prejudice, poverty, and adversity every time.”
When I heard those words spoken by the father of my best friend, I was a fourteen year old black kid wandering the streets of Cleveland Ohio. I was a repeat eighth grader who hadn’t attended school regularly for a year. Statistically I was too old to be reachable and was on a one-way path to either a prison cell or a cemetery plot.
But that simple message helped motivate me to make better choices and have the courage to follow my dreams.
I managed to get an education, even in the substandard inner city schools that I attended, and become a productive citizen in the country that I love. After serving in the United States Navy, I enjoyed a fantastic 20 year career as a radio newscaster and talk show host, ran for U.S. Congress, and now I am a teacher inspiring and educating my middle school students.
That is how I know that on any given day the right message, from the right person, can change the trajectory of a child’s life.
That is why I am convinced that we can break the cycles of poor achievement and poverty for many of our young people here in Connecticut.
There are more than 206,000 students in Connecticut public schools who are classified as poor, based on their family’s income level.
“Teachers, principals, superintendents, and others connected to some of the state’s lowest-achieving schools took turns testifying during a recent trial about the trauma and poverty their students face – and the shortage of resources they say they have with which to help.”
We are reaching out help some of those students to help themselves.
“In Bridgeport and Hartford, two of the largest school districts in the state, only a quarter of the students are reading at grade level and half are significantly behind.”
Our mission is to help change those numbers for the better.
The Tauck Family Foundation, a private foundation that invests in the development of children from low-income families in Bridgeport, reports that students in low-performing schools are five times more likely to drop out of high school than those in high-performing schools.
One high school in Stamford has nearly 200 repeat freshmen who are high risk to drop out.
Our goal is to inspire those students not to give up on themselves. We will be a lifeline of motivation and resources that these students can hold onto over the next four years to help pull themselves out and over their circumstances and fulfill their dreams.
We are also launching leadership programs for students as young as 4th and 5th grade.
Our children can’t wait for the grownups to to get their act together.
The decision of Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell came over 10 years after the case was brought to court in 2005. The appeal could take even longer and after that, the politicians have to fight about exactly how to go about helping the children caught on the wrong side of the achievement gap. How many years will that take?
What about the thousands and thousands of children struggling in our failing schools now?
Far too many of our young people are leaving poor school systems unable to break the cycle of poverty and ending up in prison or in the social services safety net.
You can help change that.
Can our student motivational program save every student? Of course not.
But can it save SOME students by inspiring them with the courage and determination to overcome the odds and succeed even in so-called failing school systems?
The answer is YES!
Is saving the future of even a few of these children worth the effort? Is it worth doing?
If your answer is yes, please give as much as you can right now.
Your donation could literally change the destiny of a child.
Executive Director, Brave Enough to Fail Inc.
Ct Mirror When Poverty Permeates the Classroom by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas