Last year, our graduation rate was 68% in June, and increased to 73% in August.
This year, our graduation rate is 60% in June, eight points below last year.
I confess, I would love to have handed diplomas to every student. For a week or so, I’ve felt as though the dog ate my optimism. I would like it back, please.
Yet it’s hard to stay uninspired for long when I come into contact with students, or listen to just about anyone. The other day, an 11th grade student from another high school in the Bronx called me on my cell phone to ask if she could take geometry in my school over the summer. I didn’t know her and don’t know how she got my number but was inspired by her research, resourcefulness, and chutzpah.
Even writing this post after a long blogging hiatus is a way of throwing my hat back in the ring, and rejecting the story in my mind that I don’t have the “right to write” about education. Maybe this is exactly the time I should be writing. Thanks also to my Aunt Pat, who said matter of factly to me, “We need people who have the courage to experiment so our society can move forward.”
The student in the picture is Babacar, who came from Senegal in 2012 speaking no English. He graduated this year after four years of ups and downs, fights, laughs, pouts, ultimately passing his last few exams in triumph this past June.
Late this year, I learned that he had not seen his mother in four years, and was looking forward to a summer trip to see her in Senegal. I was in awe. I couldn’t imagine not seeing my mother for four years when I was a teenager.
In the picture, Babacar is kicking a soccer ball during one of our great initiatives this year: recess. Sometime in May, we decided that even big kids need recess in order to get refreshed and inspired. I loved seeing our kids run and play in the sunlight. It’s summer now, and in between supervising summer school sessions, I think I’ll do the same.
Photo credit: Julie Nariman