College dreams get real

Downtown College Prep, the charter school in my book, aims to qualify all its graduates for four-year colleges. Saturday, 12 students in the first graduating class were admitted to San Jose State. The Mercury News’ story interviews a girl I know, Gloria Medina, who pulled her grades from Ds and Fs as a freshman to As and Bs. I know Berenice too. She’d been dumped in special ed in middle school and was determined to escape. She’s got a 3.5 GPA.

I was helping students with college essays today. One boy wrote about his mother working two jobs to support him. When he was in elementary school, she bicycled him to school at 6:30 am, dressed in two layers of clothing for warmth, so she could get to her first job by 7:30.

Then I read one by an A student whose mother works three jobs to support the family. (No father in either case.) The first line of the girl’s essay read like poetry:

I walked barefoot across the border in my mother’s dreams.

I think she needs to clarify that her mother was fulfilling a dream, not dreaming. This girl left Mexico at the age of six wearing her favorite shoes. But the shoes squeaked, and her mother was afraid the noise would alert the Border Patrol. So the little girl threw away her shoes and kept walking. Her essay is about realizing that going to college is her own dream — not her mother’s. She has to make this journey on her own.

About Joanne


  1. Congrats to Gloria and to Berenice, and to all the other kids who made it. Sounds like your school is doing great work, Joanne.

  2. Joanne, how can this be? Don’t you know Mexicans have low IQs? Only Asians thrive in the US.

  3. That’s inspiring-even without reading the whole essay.

  4. SMITHFIELD, N.C. — A high school teacher was suspended for a classroom experiment that caused several students to vomit after drinking large amounts of milk.

    That’s the preamble from the Fox News editorial.

    When I read the article, so many thoughts struck me at once, I’m not sure where to begin. Good grief, where do they get these people? Historically, lab experiments have been an appropriate and demonstrative way of proving theory, but this…ya gotta wonder. Personally, I can’t recall in my own high school Physics or Chemistry classes, that we performed experiments on the human body; and in any case, it sounds more like a Biology/Physiology experiment to me. But I’ll let that slide. I suppose the parents should be grateful that the teacher wasn’t trying to demonstrate how inefficiently the human body processes alcohol.

    I suspect that this sort of education falls right in line with the “feeling history” concept that has been recently discussed on this website. Wonderful. Now participating students get to “feel” a lactic acid overdose, while nonparticipating students have the dubious privilege of watching their classmates vomit. Yep, sounds like another liberal “feel good” (no pun intended) adventure in education to me. If the teacher is reinstated, perhaps he’ll have an encore with students holding their hands in the flame of their bunsen burners so that they can feel the chemical reaction when human tissue meets fire. After all, many students may not have had an opportunity to experience, first hand, a third degree burn.

    Given that prospective teachers must pass a Teachers Examination administered by the state in which they wish to work, perhaps these exams can be augmented by an additional section that evaluates the graduate’s level of common sense in addition to their scholastic competency. It seems to me that there is a vacuum in that area in some quarters of academia.

    While I could certainly ramble on about the crisis in our education system, since I have a 12 year old child in public school, it wouldn’t do my nerves any good. Having said that, I think I’ll have a warm glass of milk and go to bed.

    Jim Hash
    Reynolds, GA