‘Study harder, fight harder’

To prepare inner-city Boston students for competitive high schools and prep schools, Beacon Academy puts eighth-grade graduates through a rigorous one-year high school prep program. The Boston Globe reports on the private, tuition-free program’s first year:

“In the beginning, I felt like it was way too much work times two,” said Dennishia Bell, 14, a former honor roll student at the Umana Barnes Middle School in East Boston. “I didn’t realize that I wasn’t really being challenged in school until I came to Beacon Academy. If I stuck to the Boston Public Schools, I almost feel like they were cheating me out of my education.”

. . . “I’ve told them many times, `You don’t study hard enough,’ ” said Dean Conway, the school’s English and social studies teacher who had previously taught at The Park School in Brookline for 17 years. ” `You’ve got to study harder, fight harder.’ The fine line we continually walk is pushing them too hard and alienating them and, on the other hand, coddling them.”

These are motivated students who’ve earned good grades. Yet it takes 14 months (including both summers) of hard work to get them to the start line at a competitive high school. For the second year, school leaders plan fewer culturally broadening field trips and more focus on academics.

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  1. “These are motivated students who’ve earned good grades. ”

    Remember, all those aggregations of girls vs. boys takes these inner city As (given mostly to girls) and compares them against suburban Cs. Kind of removes any desire to draw conclusions about gender academic abilities from grades–at least, it should.

    Also, did you notice the gender? They started with 19 kids. Four dropped out. The student list shows five girls and ten boys. That suggests that the original gender ratio was 10 boys, 9 girls, and that the four dropouts were girls.

    It’s too small a sample size for any meaningful conclusions, obviously. But it’s interesting to consider in light of our earlier comments. Put an equal amount of African American boys and girls in a challenging academic environment. The boys all stay in, and close to 50% of the girls drop out.

  2. Wayne Martin says:

    It might be interesting to examine Outward Bound’s history and success, when thinking about this training:

    Outward Bound, USA: