Letter carrier, U.S. Postal Service; third vice president, Congress Heights Civic Community Association; founder, New Breed of Concerned Citizens; advocate for the mentally retarded and member of The New Wave Education Foundation; president, LifeStyle Productions Inc.; member of Local 641, National Association of Letter Carriers and the Public Relations Society of America; member, Congress Heights United Methodist Church; appointee-elect, Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
1. One reason for the disparity is that many secondary students did not have the opportunity to benefit from the redirected focus of education. It seems to me that if the scores have improved among the elementary students to the point that there has been an impressive difference, then it stands to reason the same method should be used on the secondary level. An in-depth study would provide the information necessary to adapt the program to secondary school students.
2. Low income has no impact on students' ability to learn. In most cases, a D.C. student coming from a low-income family has not been exposed to the same opportunities as a student from a middle- or upper-income family. Additionally, community environment and resources also contribute greatly to exposing children to new experiences. Example: a family of four earning $15,000 per annum and living in Anacostia is not exposed to the same opportunities as a family earning $15,000 per annum and living in Adams Morgan. In short, environment has as much to do with it as income. There are many ways to make sure that low-income students are given the same opportunities as children from other backgrounds. One way is through student exchange programs providing the opportunity to work and attend school or school-related activities in another environment, outside of the home community.
3. The three most important factors are: (1) Electing dedicated people with background and knowledge in child rearing. These people do not have to have a degree, just compassion, common sense, mother wit and, above all, imagination and the ability to communicate with their colleagues. (2) Concerned parents who take time to help their child with homework and attend regular PTA meetings, as well as show interest in them by talking about life in general. (3) Responsible education for the young and old: education that teaches you how to fish, not education that teaches you to beg for a fish dinner. Responsible education is education that teaches you to work with the correct attitude and tools, and, eventually, to chart your own course in life.