By Gerod A.O. Blue

Graduation is an aspect of school that everyone looks forward to.  But, is graduating always enough?  Does it matter which middle school, high school, or college you graduate from?

The Washington Post recently published an article entitled, “Graduates from low-performing D.C. schools face tough college road”.  The article follows recent D.C. high school graduates who are concerned that they may not be good enough for college.  Johnathon Carrington, a recent graduate of the Dunbar High School asserts, “I don’t think I’m going to fail everything…but I think I’m going to be a bit behind.”

 Shocking observation, but true.  College students who have graduated from low-performing high schools find their transition into college as one shocking and ego-shattering one.  Though Carrington was able to graduate as Valedictorian, is he truly ready to take on college?  It happens to all inner-city high school graduates at several different times.  The Washington Post writes:

“For Sache Collier, it meant writing her first research paper. For Darryl Robinson, it meant realizing that professors expected original ideas, not just regurgitated facts. For Angelica Wardell, who grew up going to school almost exclusively with African American students, it meant taking classes with whites and Asians.”

Sache Collier, the 2011 valedictorian at Ballou Senior High in Southeast Washington, said the first thing she noticed when she arrived at Penn State University was how intently her fellow students paid attention during class.

Parents often want their kids to do well in school and look forward to them obtaining a college degree.   But, can distractions and low-graduation rates cause a problem, even for children who want to do well?  In D.C. nearly two-thirds of the District’s high school graduates enroll in college and of those who enroll, 38 percent earn a degree within five years.

Our problems stem from experiences in schools.  What are issues that city school officials and community leaders can address in order to fix the problem?  Is it the need for more rigorous academics?  Matthew Stuart, an AP English teacher at Dunbar, attributed students’ lack of college preparation in part to the city’s focus on annual standardized tests that demand little critical thinking or problem-solving.

What are some changes we can make in order to fix our education system?

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