Thursday, December 29, 2011

1 in 10.

Well readers, it's been a while. A while of soul-searching, learning and understanding what I want out of life. It is no secret that my 23rd year has been the most trying and every day I do feel glad that I have you to share my life with, however depressing it is at times. 

I got two new tattoos yesterday on my wrists, in honor of this blog. Over the last year and a half, this place has become my safe place - I've vented, shared my success and if you haven't read this installment I've also shared my defeats. I've said things here that I'm afraid to say out loud and that for me, speaks volumes. Quite a few times this year I've gone back through and looked at what kept me going through this journey and I can honestly say that I'm still unsure on how I did it at times. Anyway,   although I know I won't teach forever, I do know that this journey is something that will always stay with me. No matter where I end up [which is so up in the air it is unreal] I know that somewhere, someone will be inspired by the things I have to say and do. 

Now, this isn't what this blog is actually about, but it did stir up some feelings so I guess we are on the right track. Now, I want to talk about a statistic. A statistic that is so true for us in this movement of education reform and something that has really got me thinking for the past few weeks: one in ten. 

I remember walking through the UW campus when I was a senior, seeing all these TFA signs everywhere that said random things on it. One will always stick with me, and even though I still see it from time to time, I will never forget what it says:

1 in 10 children from a low-income community will graduate from college.

I am pretty sure I'm close to the correct verbage - but I do know it says 1 in 10, and it is a graduate-from-college in 4 years statistic. Readers, I'm going to share the realization I had about this a few weeks ago, that I've been trying to digest ever since. 

I graduated from high school with 58 other individuals. Counting me, that is 59 people in the Ilwaco High School graduating class of 2006. Let's, for statistical purposes, round up to 60. Hell, I could have forgotten someone. 

That would mean, that 6 of the people I went to high school with [nay, kindergarten through high school] graduated from college in four years, including me. When I was talking to a friend today about this, I was hard pressed to get to six of us that did it in 4 years. I am hard pressed to think of ten that made it through the first year. When we pooled our brainpower together, we came up with a solid 6 of us that graduated from college in 4 years. And it hit me, readers. I was the lucky one of six. I think about the community that i grew up in - and I realized that a young age that it was not wealthy. When I moved to Seattle the difference was even more stark. I was nannying for children that rarely saw their parents, had meals cooked for them, put in tupperwares and instructions on reheating on the counter. Kiddos with so many extra-curriculars that they would be in bed later that I was ever allowed. Kids that knew even at the age of TEN that they had every chance to go to Stanford to follow in their father's footsteps. I was told at the ripe age of 17 that I wouldn't ever get into UW, a STATE SCHOOL. 

Yes, just like my students, statistics were in front of me, dictating my life. I knew that I stood no chance getting into UW - neither one of my parents finished college, my sister didn't attend a 4-year and it wasn't like I went to a 4A school that had a lot of extra-curriculars and college-prep programming to get me that boost. I got booted from the cheer squad, which in turn led the golf coach to not want me on his team [like I even wanted to play golf] and I didn't want to do track or cross-country. I took extra math classes and wished for the best. I often try to channel that little girl inside me that knew college was so important and oftentimes, I come up empty. I just KNEW I had to do it. I look at the 30 students I have now, and I know that they have every capability to push themselves to get there, too. Unfortunately, the statistic is there: 3 of my students have the potential to graduate from college. 

I'd be doing a disservice to my students every day if I believed that only 3 of them could do it. But readers, I'll be honest with you - as much flack as I get for this and as much as people may want to argue, I wonder how many of them will in what, 16 years be college graduates. I want to say all of them and if I do my job right then yes, it will be 30/30 but I went to a school that was a lot less rough and just as poor as mine and only 6 of us made it out. 

I'm scared, readers. The achievement gap is a monster that just. wont. quit.

1 comment:

Michelo said...

Glad to hear one of my fellow IHS classmates is seeing how sucky the world can be. I've been volunteering with latino students in the area and it's sad to see and hear how few of them make it out to college. It's probably way less than 1/10. I feel we could talk about this for hours! And by the way, i counted 12 of us that made it through a 4 year university from the class of 2006 :)