City Students Have Potential
An article in the L.A. Times explores some challenges of urban education that Saint Louisans know well. Only in Los Angeles, students are doing the education research themselves:
Hernandez and nearly two dozen other teenagers spent part of the summer studying several of the city’s most troubled high schools with the guidance of a UCLA research program. On Friday, they delivered their findings to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s education advisors at City Hall.
Much of what the students found mirrors data reported by professional researchers — namely, that half or more students at some schools drop out before graduation.
Both Saint Louis’ and Los Angeles’ experiences show that students in inner cities can be active participants in their education. In Los Angeles, some teenagers were willing to do work most education consultants would charge a lot of money for. In Saint Louis, students devoted several full days to sit in the mayor’s office and protest the district’s loss of accreditation. Unfortunately, both of these examples are cases of students being involved in district politics rather than in studying academic subjects.
The allegation that public school students don’t care is false. Many of them just don’t have an outlet for their energy. They have opportunities to protest, but few opportunities to learn. If each family made its own choices about schools, there would be less political drama about education. Instead of working on advisory reports and protests, students could focus on essays and science-fair projects.