Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Poverty (and how to avoid it)

The Southern Education Foundation (SEF) just published a report detailing the make up of public schools from an income perspective. The report indicates that low income students now make up a solid majority in the South. For a comprehensive review of this report and its findings, see our link to the SEF.

The report and its findings are not my main focus. Rather, I believe we should put a bright light on the formula for avoiding poverty.

In his book ENOUGH, Juan Williams records, in simple terms, what I think is the right prescription.

Mr. Williams says "The good news is that there is a formula for getting out of poverty today."

Step one: Finish high school (that also means you must do well in school, my emphasis)and finishing college (or other trade school, my emphasis) is much better.

Step two: Take a job (any job,my emphasis) and hold it.

Step three: Marry after finishing school and while you have a job.

Step four: Have children only after you are twenty-one and married.

Williams goes on to say "The poverty rate for any black man or woman who follows that formula is 6.4 percent. The overall poverty rate for black Americans, based on 2002 census data, the year this analysis was done, was 21.5 percent. In other words, by meeting those basic requirements, black Americans can cut their chances of being poor by two-thirds."

I know that circumstances will not always allow one to package his or her life in a neat step by step fashion. Just as following the formula will not guarantee you will not be poor. But, the message makes a lot of sense to me and it is a message that should be embraced and repeated within the black community.

What do you think?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

High School Attendance Results

The local Learning to Finish effort just concluded its tracking of attendance in Caddo and Bossier districts. A recent editorial in The Times indicated "absenteeism rates ranged from an average of 1.4 percent at Judson Elementary to 10.1 percent at Woodlawn High to 12 percent at Caddo Career and Technology Center."

I personally tracked the High Schools and logged the following results: Magnet 2.4%, Green Oaks 3.9%, Captain Shreve 4.3%, Byrd 4.6%, North Caddo 5.5%, Northwood 6.1%, Fair Park 6.6%,Huntington 6.7%, Southwood 6.7%, BTW 7.2% and Woodlawn 10.1%.

Further, I clocked Caddo at 4.7% overall while Bossier came in at 4.2%.

In any event, the exercise was a good one. We all know that students must be in school to succeed. Communities surrounding the involved high schools should take note and make sure your children are attending school. I suspect many parents are under the impression that the kids are in school, only to be surprised when report cards are distributed.

Parents must check in on students frequently to pick up early signs of potential trouble. That means getting to teachers and administrators at other than school sponsored activities such as back to school nights.

Be sure to stay alert for other Learning to Finish initiatives.

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