Friday, August 28, 2015

How Do You Help Poor Students?

August 24, 2006 by  
Filed under General

How do you help poor students, especially those in Chicago’s poor neighborhoods with gangs? The answer has already been provided in story from the Chicago Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, or the Chicago Tribune, no; the BBC. (Hat tip: Jesuit Items who does reside in Oak Park)

The Jesuits setup up a high school in Chicago in where Father Jim Gartland crosses the territories of seven gangs while walking a mile to work. [Emphasis Mine]


The power of faith – coupled with a down to earth approach to the business world – has been harnessed by Jesuit priests in the US to send thousands of the poorest black and Hispanic children from deprived inner city areas to university.

The Jesuits have set up a network of schools which take students from neighbourhoods beset by gangs, drugs and crime, and give them an intensive high school education costing $10,000 (£5,300) a year.
Cristo Rey – or Christ the King – was founded by Jesuit priests despatched to the districts of Pilsen and Little Village to do what they could to reverse a cycle of despair and inertia.
The school started out taking anyone who would go, but now tearful parents approach staff every week at mass, pleading for a place for their children.

And that is because the experiment has succeeded beyond the Jesuits’ wildest dreams.

Cristo Rey drives a pretty hard bargain.

Everyone leaving the school today has a place at college and a belief that they will ‘be something’

At the age of 14, children must commit, single-mindedly, to working for a place at college.

The dress code is strict, punctuality rigorously enforced, and students who lie about being on drugs are kicked out. So are any who promote, or recruit for, gangs.

In return they get an intensive high school education in small classes, freedom from intimidation and a counselling system that does its best to defuse domestic issues such as abuse, violence, drugs and crime.

It costs $10,000 (£5,300) a year, in a neighbourhood where the average family of five lives on little more than $30,000 (£15,900).

And how it finds the money is perhaps the real secret ingredient of Cristo Rey’s success – a formula in which there seems to be no losers.

Paying their way

The school sends its students downtown, to work as temps for five days every month in the gleaming high rise offices of lawyers, banks and insurance companies.
The stark contrast between the children of Cristo Rey, and the lost souls on local streets, becomes inescapable as the final year students have their leaving photo taken in the gym.

They pose for serious photos and then plead for informal ones, piling over each other in decorous disarray.

Without Cristo Rey it is a fair bet that many of them would be unemployed, caught up in drugs or crime, or even in jail.

This is yet another example of how public government schools have failed our poorest and most needy. It is aslo a shining example of how a choice brings hope to many who would otherwise never have a chance. Even these poor parents know what they want for their children. They understand what a good education can bring. Yet, the education bureaucracy continues to block funding for each child and forces students into schools where they will not receive a good education. We need to tell our State Representatives and Senators to not give one more dime to the education bureaucracy and start funding the child. Funding the child will bring hope to many in the failed public

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