For several years our organization has been involved in enabling teens to take the SAT exam in preparation for entrance to college and university life.
The process has been a real struggle. We've taken all sorts of approaches to offer opportunity to as many low-income, inner city high school students as possible.
We've enjoyed some success across the years.
One of the plans we tried a few years ago involved recruiting youth from one of our area public high schools for our summer SAT prep class. The students enrolled toward the end of the spring semester. Then they attended class three hours daily for a three-week period.
Since most of these students had to have summer jobs, we arranged to pay them $6.00 an hour to attend our classes. In addition, we paid for all materials, supplies and two pre-tests to determine their progress from start to finish. A partnership we enjoyed with the University of Texas at Dallas provided the instructors.
The outcomes were gratifying.
The students were highly motivated. They worked hard. We had no discipline problems at all during the course of study. Best of all, a number of our students made great progress.
We have used other methods to accomplish this same outcome with varying degrees of success.
We are committed to seeing as many of our high school students as possible go on to university study.
We know that higher education is essential to whatever success these young people will enjoy going forward.
Given this background, I need to get something off my chest.
I am offended by one of the current recruiting commercials being used by the U. S. Army to entice young men and women to enlist for military duty.
The scene for this particular ad is a kitchen in what seems to be the home of a single mother who has an older teenaged son.
The young man struggles to inform his mother that he has signed up for the Army. He finally blurts out that it is "time for him to be a man" (a recurring theme in more than one of these commercials) and that by joining the Army he has found a way to pay for his own education.
The mother smiles a nervous smile and I guess the teen goes off to war. If he survives, I suppose he can return to college.
All of this at the same time our government is cutting back on Pell Grant funding for low-income students. Thanks to recent changes in public policy at the federal and state levels, it is harder than ever for low-income students to progress beyond high school to college.
Of course, if we can't fund tuition and books, we can send these youth off to Iraq in hopes that when they come home they will still be interested in higher education.
Is it just me or does them seem really out-of-whack?
Oh, yes, one more detail. The young man in the commercial happened to be a person of color just like most of the eager students in our SAT prep programs.
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