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Monday, February 12, 2007

Higher Expectations for Cleveland Kids

Posted By on Mon, Feb 12, 2007 at 2:02 AM

The new Cleveland Public Schools CEO announced the closing of schools due to the cold weather and the fact that "many CPS children do not have adequate coats." I didn't hear another other school official in any other locality blame inadequate clothing as a reason to close schools. Why was it necessary for him to tack on this remark? Because it seems it is important to remind CPS students at every opportunity of their failures, of their lack of adequate supplies and preparation and parental involvement and every other possible reason why they will fail. So when they fail as expected, who is surprised? They are being set up to fail by the mere fact that all they ever hear is that they will probably fail. I grew in public housing projects in Chicago and attended Chicago public schools in the '60s and '70s. I noticed that my older siblings had used the same textbooks I was using, but my teachers still expected me turn in homework and assignments and learn from those tattered books. My school building was old and there was no grass around it, but I was expected to get there on time everyday and sit still and pay attention in stifling classrooms. They did not provide me with built-in excuses for failure. They expected success despite the obstacles. I am now a doctor. Even when I went to high school -- which was two buses and an El ride of over a hour across town (to a "better" school in an all-white neighborhood) -- the teachers still did not accept excuses. It was not until I got to college and took sociology that I discovered, to my surprise, that I was a poor, underprivledged minority woman who should statisically be pregant and barefoot. This letter is about self esteem and expectations. When I heard the CEO make that remark about no coats, I thought of how that must make the kids feel. I thought about all the negatives I have heard about CPS and students since moving to Cleveland and what it has made me think of CPS. What do you think it makes the students think of themselves? How much time and effort went into that school supply give away before school started for the "needy" kids? The message: You can't learn or start school unless you have new pencils, notebooks, etc. Another built-in excuse. Stop programming them for failure. In fact, stop even telling them what they don't have and can't do. Start expecting success no matter what. And they will succeed with what they have. Dorothy A. Bradford

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