Archive for "education"

Graduation Season (pt. 2)

Published by T. J. Holmes on Friday, June 8, 2012 at 3:55 pm.

By graduation day every year, many young people’s fates are sealed. And it’s an unfortunate but unalienable truth that not every child will have his or her fate positively sealed at birth like I did. Not every child will be born into a home like mine with parents or guardians like mine. It would have taken something monumental to take me off course. For others born into different circumstances and facing different challenges, it will take a monumental effort from all of us to get you on the right course. That starts by our not sleeping on a crisis that few seem to treat like a crisis at all.

The statistics alone are enough to make all of us discouraged: the graduation rate for Black males is around 50%, according to many studies including the highly publicized Schott Report on Black Males & Education. But, what’s really infuriating is that not enough of us are even shocked or outraged when we hear the numbers anymore. For every young black boy who hears his name called and walks across the stage at a high school graduation ceremony, there’s another black boy whose name won’t be called, ostensibly sealing his fate. Why are all of us not all raising hell about this? And how can we support the people who are?

Grad Nation is trying to help. The initiative by Gen. Colin Powell’s America’s Promise Alliance http://www.americaspromise.org ) has a goal of getting this country to a 90% graduation rate by the year 2020. But now, the organization admits they are behind in that goal. According to the group, the overall U.S. high school graduation rate stands at 75%, and we still have about 7,000 students dropping out of high school every single day.

Project Success, a program run by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta (of which I’m a member), is trying to help as well. Project Success identifies then provides mentoring for at-risk students. The students get the tutoring and skills to graduate from high school and receive the financial aid to go to college. We need a Project Success in every city and in every neighborhood in America. But, we don’t have that, so we need you.

Here’s what I’m asking you to do. If you know of people or programs that are working to attack this crisis, or if you have ideas or even questions, I want to hear about it. Share your thoughts and spread the word with me, @tjholmes, and with the @BETdontsleep community.

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Graduation Season

Published by T. J. Holmes on Friday, June 1, 2012 at 11:42 am.

I don’t know when I first knew for sure that I was going to go to college. I think it was somewhere around birth. For that, my parents are owed a “thank you” from me, the government, and taxpayers.

By first ensuring that I would graduate from high school, my parents predetermined that I would earn an estimated $130,000 more over my lifetime than a high school dropout. And by going even further to ensure I went to and graduated from college, my parents padded my salary even more. A college grad like me will make $1 million more over a lifetime than a non-college graduate.

What does that mean to you? Since they guaranteed I’d make more money in my lifetime by graduating from high school and college, my parents gave the government a gift of increased tax revenue. High school dropouts aren’t able to earn and, therefore, contribute as much in taxes, so local, state and federal governments miss out on hundreds of billions in potential income. Since my parents guaranteed that I’d be contributing more to government revenues with the higher salary I could command from my education, they helped out their fellow taxpayers by keeping me from relying on government-funded programs.

In a way, then, we can all thank my parents. Because of them, I honestly believe my fate was sealed at birth. I wasn’t allowed to fail. It was never an option. My mother is a retired elementary school teacher. My dad was my high school principal. Needless to say, education was a focus around the Holmes house.

The fates of a lot of you young folks are being sealed right now because another graduation season is upon us. I’ve thought about my own parents as I’ve seen other families at restaurants around town having graduation dinners with their new grads. It’s such a celebratory season for beaming families who are so proud of what these young people have accomplished so far, and they’re hopeful about the years to come. You can’t help but smile at what is one of those signature, joyous moments in life for a family. But I find this season to be downright depressing, too.

Let me ask: when was your fate sealed… and who helped seal it? Share with me, @tjholmes, and join the @BETdontsleep community. We want to hear your stories.

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