William McGurn’s piece in today’s Wall Street Journal highlights the huge benefits Catholic schools provide students in inner cities – even though they are struggling to continue serving the very communities that need them most.
While President Obama graduated from the private Punahou School in Hawaii, he did attend a Catholic school in Indonesia, and visited a Chicago Catholic school shortly after his election. McGurn calls on Obama to voice his support of Catholic schools publicly, saying, “This doesn’t mean that Mr. Obama must embrace vouchers. Given the dynamic of his party, that would be expecting too much. And a president can’t institute vouchers anyway, except in limited ways. However, simply by acknowledging Catholic schools as a national treasure that should be preserved, Mr. Obama would give them a badly needed shot in the arm.”
CSF staffers went on a school visit today to St. Anselm Parochial School in the South Bronx. In meeting practically the whole third grade class, student by student, we learned that many are excited to be doctors, teachers, police officers (to stop bank robbers!), veterinarians, paleontologists, and singers, just like Alicia Keys, Mia told us. St. Anselm is without a doubt a school filled with activity and warmth. The students raved about their teachers and principal, Ms. Teresa Lopes, saying that teachers explain subjects thoroughly and that they love Ms. Lopes because she takes care of their school. Ultimately, St. Anselm is blessed with a supportive staff and thriving students, and it was a great school to visit.
To give some kudos to CSF recipients, we’d like to congratulate four St. Anselm students who received Student of the Month awards in November and December:
Alexus and Celia (3rd grade) both received the Student of the Month Leadership Award in November 2008.
Amberly (3rd grade) and Stephanie (5th grade) both received the Student of the Month Generosity Award in December 2008.
Congratulations and keep up the good work!
Published January 12, 2009
Education News , Philanthropy
Listen to CSF President Darla Romfo being interviewed on WBAI’s Walden’s Pond program yesterday. Darla discussed both Children’s Scholarship Fund and the Philanthropic Collaborative, which educates policy makers about the economic value of foundations and the great work they are doing in America’s communities. From WBAI’s archives page, you can listen to or download yesterday’s program in its entirety.
Patrick McCloskey’s new book, The Street Stops Here, chronicles an academic year at Rice High School, an all-boys Harlem Catholic school serving African-American and Latino young men. McCloskey spent a year at Rice, closely observing in the classrooms and principal’s office, and brings the reader from a pep talk for new students to graduation and beyond.
What really comes across is the uphill battle both educators and students face on a daily basis. Boys who could easily earn $150 a night selling drugs on the street are hard-pressed to understand why hitting the books might be a better idea than aiming for UCLA – the University of the Corner of Lenox Avenue – as one Rice teen jokes. And even the students who are determined to excel struggle with family crises such as drug addiction, death, and worse. One boy hangs out in the park until dark every night to avoid his abusive alcoholic father. Another witnessed his own father murdering his mother, and many have been homeless or shuttled between relatives. A few are parents themselves, and one already has a criminal record. No one can argue that private schools like Rice are “skimming” high-performing students from public schools – in fact, most freshmen enter Rice with 6th grade reading and math skills.
But the determination and persistence of Rice’s principal and teachers, and their belief that everyone deserves a quality education, pushes most of the boys through high school and into college. Although there are a few stunning success stories (graduates who are now professional basketball players or students who won Ivy League scholarships), the great victory of Rice is simply graduating young men who go on to college and stable jobs, expanding their possibilities – and those of their families too.
One student who was in and out of detention a few years ago is now a Hofstra University graduate working at Bank of America, and he sponsors a current Rice High School student through the Student Sponsor Partners program. What a testament to the hard (and mostly unrecognized) work that Catholic school administrators and educators are doing year after year.