Those of us who have been fighting for school choice for more than 30 years know all too well the stories of families with children stuck in dead-end schools. Just yesterday, I saw a headline about a school district in California that is called a “pipeline to prison.” I’ve heard this so many times over the past 30 years. Are these characterizations–“pipeline to prison”, “dead-end schools”–exaggerations?
In Gary, Indiana, on the northeast side of Indianapolis, and on the northeast side of Baton Rouge, challenges are plenty.
Just a week ago, several of my board members shared a horrific story of one of their friends (he was in his 70s) being shot dead at a local gas station at 8:30 in the morning by a couple of teenagers. Shocking and sad.
What’s the solution?
When I hear these stories of teenagers committing such horrific and senseless acts of crime, I have to attribute it to their lack of hope. They have no hope for their future, thus, senseless acts have no cost to them.
What happens if they have hope? How can we give them that hope? More of the same? I think not.
That’s why GEO schools are built differently. We are not a dead-end, nor are we a destination. We build our high schools to be launching pads (or pipelines, if you will) for students to taste and experience a bright future–at college and/or career centers. We don’t “hope” they succeed, we make sure they succeed by providing the support for students to take real college and career classes. Hope quickly turns into belief and renewed purpose in life. Our students succeed!
It is with this backdrop that I smile every time I see Arianna and Brianna get attention for their accomplishments in our Gary high school. These two best friends graduated in May having already earned more than a full two years of college. Arianna is headed to Howard University and Brianna is headed to the University of Kentucky next month.
Recently, Chalkbeat – a nationally recognized online journal of education reform – featured an essay written by Brianna. She shared that it was not easy earning a full associate degree while in high school, but it was “so worth it.”
Her best friend, Arianna, also earned a full associate degree while in our high school. She wants to set a good example for her younger sisters and she set a goal to get accepted into a top HBCU. Her dream is coming true, too. And this week, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools recognized Arianna’s accomplishments by featuring her in their Facebook and Twitter profiles of 2021 charter school graduates.
As I write this report, students in our Baton Rouge, Indianapolis, and Gary schools are spending their summers getting tutored and ready to take and/or have already taken the college entrance exams to qualify for Ivy Tech Community College and/or Baton Rouge Community College. These students want to do more and they are enrolling in our schools because they see real hope and opportunity for them, support from us, and they believe. We believe, too.
It is because of the example set by Arianna and Brianna, and so many other students in our schools, that I’m very optimistic for the future. Families are hearing about these students and their successes and our enrollment is bursting at the seams. We need a bigger rocket!
Founder & President