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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 04:56 PM #

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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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Running Time: 130 minutes

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In the Days of These Kings (Book)

Perfect-bound Paperback — 740 pages

The Book of Daniel in Preterist Perspective

“And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Daniel 2:44).

The overarching message of Daniel is that Jesus the Messiah is even now ruling over the nations. He is the King of kings. Daniel tells us that Messiah’s kingdom will advance in the whole world from “generation to generation” (Daniel 4:4,34). Christ’s dominion is “given to the people of the saints of the most High” (Daniel 7:22). Our purpose then is to see “all people, nations, and languages … serve and obey him” (Daniel 7:14,27).

This comprehensive work offers a fascinating look at the book of Daniel in preterist perspective. Great attention is paid to the writings of ancient and modern historians and scholars to connect the dots and demonstrate the continuity of Daniel’s prophecy with all of Scripture.

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Frank Schaeffer Will You Please Shut Up! (Book)

High Quality Paperback — 200 pages

A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism

Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner

The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.

Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.

Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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