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Understanding Poverty in Orlando, Florida Area High Schools (Part 1)

I was at my 25th high school reunion in Framingham, Massachusetts last week and ran into a guy I knew named John. He used to be in METCO which was a busing program that brought kids from Roxbury and Dorchester (two lower income areas of Boston) to the suburban schools so they could receive an adequate education. The ride was 90 minutes each way – a whole hour of pick-ups and then a 30 minute drive to Framingham on the highway. I asked John why he would endure that every day. It sounded crazy to me. He said, “To get an education, man! I look at the kids that grew up around me who still live in my neighborhood. They all have messed up lives. The main thing that saved me was my education.”

John said he was one of those kids who could not sit still, who was always in trouble and only came to his senior year to see his girlfriend everyday. He barely graduated with a diploma and worked a full time job after graduation. However, he eventually graduated from college with grades good enough to get him into Harvard. He has his masters in education. He has been a principal of a Boston high school and now works for a program similar to METCO – but urban based. Few people expected him to achieve this. “Least of all me,” he said.

We had a long discussion about Poinciana High School which has 30 percent or more students who transfer from New York and Boston inner city schools. I explained that it seems strange to find this population in suburban central Florida, until you consider that the areas tourist attractions draw lower income families like a magnet. The two things that I came away from that conversation with were:

1. Have high expectations for students. Expect that everyone will go on to college and tell them that they can achieve success.

2. Students that are not trying know that they are not trying. The question they need to ask themselves is, “Why?”

Every person who wants something does what one needs to do in order to get it. If that means education, then he will get an education. More school is not for everyone, but we are cheating our students if we don’t think they are capable of greatness. Practically, they need to understand that what they are learning is not so much Math, Science, Literature, History, but the fact that they need to work hard in order to achieve something. It is not financial poverty that holds people back as much as a poverty mentality.

A Hollywood director who received several Oscars was asked to explain the secret to his success. “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” was the reply. “Showing up” means more than physical presence. Many of our students (and possibly some of us teachers) do not “show up” each day.

Henry David Thoreau wrote: “If one advances in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success in the common hours.” In other words, we have to start every day with the idea that there should be an outcome. What do we expect to learn and master that we did not know before we started? Everyday we can achieve something small. Then who knows what might happen in time?

Many of Florida’s public schools have more potential than my high school did to reach kids from the inner cities. A lot of people don’t realize it, but the demographic make-up of this “tourist city” is more diverse economically and ethnically than most inner cities. At the same time, it resembles the typical suburban city. We have similar resources and enough qualified teachers. Ironically, we have a large group of lower income kids to deal with, but we can accomplish more if we have the idea that every student is capable of more than we expect.

Comments

Your comments are welcome!

I agree, that students need to realise and believe in themselves and have goals and ambitions of themselves in order to get the willingness to learn. Also that "80% of success is just showing up" - how true!

Posted by Claire Taylor on 11/09/2008 03:56 PM #

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Abortion Clinic 911 Calls (DVD)

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These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

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The Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of ChristThe Real Jesus: A Defense of the Historicity and Divinity of Christ (DVD)

Who is the Real Jesus?

Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.

Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.

The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.

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Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!

Running Time: 130 minutes

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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

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Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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