Helping Students Close The Achievement Gap

Sadie New Britain 2

 

The Battle over how Connecticut pays for public education has been going on for years and it continues with no end in sight.

In 2016, a superior court judge ruled that the state’s funding formula was “irrational” and unconstitutional, and failed to adequately fund urban and poor school districts.

In 2018 that ruling has been overturned by the state Supreme Court. The ball has now been punted back to the politicians and advocates for them to quickly and efficiently come up with a solution to the largest achievement gap in the nation between students in the richest districts in the state and the poorest districts.

We all know that the “fix” won’t be quick and efficient and any solution at all is still years away. Which brings up some uncomfortable questions.

What about the students who are struggling in our schools right now?

How can we help all of those thousands of children who are currently in our schools and on the losing side of the educational achievement gap?

Is there anything we can do immediately to positively impact even some of these students and increase their chances of not only graduating, but of achieving positive, productive, and even profitable life outcomes?

The answer is yes.

While the grownups are trying to figure out what to do, we can empower our children with motivation and some financial help to take charge of their own destiny, seize whatever opportunities are around them and pursue their dreams.

Brave Enough To Fail Inc. is helping students begin to close the achievement gap by inspiring students with the courage to pursue their dreams and to to see their own education as a way to get what they want out of life.

Brave Enough To Fail Inc, is a 501 ( C ) 3 nonprofit that provides free motivational presentations and scholarships to schools.

We believe that by offering students a compelling reason to fully invest themselves in their own education and by providing a tangible and achievable goal, we can and will raise student achievement.

Does Brave Enough To Fail institute effective education policy? Does it ensure more highly trained and qualified teachers in the classroom? Does it remove the family and social challenges that many kids face? No, no, and no.

Brave Enough To Fail does however, provide a lifeline of support for “a number” of students in the total absence of additional help from anywhere else.

It can inspire “a number” of students to achieve better life outcomes by choosing to remain in school rather than drop out.

It can, over time, inspire and motivate “a number” of students to achieve their absolute best in school, no matter where that school happens to be.

We believe that “number” of our children is worth saving. No matter how large or how small that number is.

Local businesses are getting involved

Happily, there is a growing list of courageous companies who are Brave Enough To Fund (smile) this investment in the future of our children.  They believe our program is making a difference, and can see how it will help the future of our workforce – the future of our nation.

Preferred Utilities   has stepped forward to sponsor scholarships

Kiwanis Foundation of Greater Danbury has partnered with us to provide presentations and scholarships to as many as seven area high schools

Union Savings Bank has boldly contributed funding to provide a presentation and full set of scholarships to an area high school. 

These companies and others like them are taking action to help students close the achievement gap in their own lives by providing them with a message of motivation backed by resources.  They are sending a message to the children, “Your dreams are important enough to be invested in and pursued.”

By the way, it works.

I myself am living proof that the power of positive message can change the trajectory of a child’s life. At age 14 I made the choice to go back to school after hearing a message about striving for excellence. That choice saved my life. And I am not the only one.

When speaking about the question of whether kids are able to overcome circumstances like poverty and achieve at the highest levels, Jennifer Alexander, outgoing chief executive officer of the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now says,

The fact that there is even a discussion in here suggesting that schools can’t be expected to overcome societal ills is unacceptable in 2018.”… “We know what’s possible when kids are given the opportunity and the support. We just have to have the political will to do it for all kids.”

We agree, and we hope you will too.

Wayne Winsley Founder and Executive Director of Brave Enough To Fail Inc.

 

 

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Education Reform Won’t Help YOUR Child 

achievement-gap-student

 

If your child is struggling freshman in one of the many less affluent, high schools across Connecticut where overall achievement and test scores lag behind those in more well-to-do school districts, there is no help on the horizon.

Any solutions are still years away. By the time those solutions arrive, many of today’s freshman will have either graduated lacking the skills to compete in college and career, or dropped out to be caught the social service or justice systems.

The recent ruling of Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher in CCJEF v. Rel concluded that “the state of education in some towns is alarming” and that “egregious gaps exist between rich and poor districts.”

That ruling is being appealed and who knows when that appeal will be won or lost.

After that, our elected officials still have to formulate and pass a plan to fund schools more fairly and in such a way as to get more help to students in low income areas. Then find the money to actually put that plan into action, all during a time when Connecticut is facing a massive budget deficit and school funding is cut rather than increased.

In short, if your high school aged child is currently on the wrong side of the education achievement gap,  good luck. He or she better figure out how to succeed in hard circumstances because there is little or no help coming in the near future.

Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents summed up the situation best when he said,

“The state makes decisions on funding every year, and unless they’re obligated by some court order there’s no proposal anyone can make that over the next few years says, ‘This is what we’re going to spend on education,’”

His comment was made recently during a meeting of leaders from five state education advocacy groups.

Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, Connecticut Association of Public School SuperintendentsConnecticut Association of Schools, and Connecticut Council for Education Reform.

According to the experts, the best we can hope for is some sort of policy change over the next few years.

What about the thousands of children who are in school right now?

Shouldn’t someone be something to help them?

At the very least, shouldn’t someone be offering these students a way to try and help themselves while the “cavalry” is trying to build a roadmap to find them and to buy horses to reach them?

Fortunately there is at least one organization that is helping students to overcome this adversity and help themselves now.

 

Wayne Winsley is Executive Director of Brave Enough To Fail, a nonprofit student motivational program. To interview Mr. Winsley or learn more email wayne@BraveEnoughToFail.org or visit http://www.BraveEnoughToFail.org

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