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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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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - How Should We Then Live? (DVD)

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After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.

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The Four Keys to the Millennium (Book)

Foundations in Biblical Eschatology

By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.

All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?

These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.

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The Beast of Revelation IdentifiedThe Beast of Revelation: Identified (DVD)

Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?

Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!

Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.

Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)

Running Time: 145 minutes

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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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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