Friday, May 23, 2003

Now, some GOOD news about education!

Instapundit linked today to the great blog by Joanne Jacobs. I scanned down her blog and found this entry. In it Joanne links to a news story about a pledge of $19 million for an organization that is working to educate poor children well.

I was excited by the news that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will be funding new Cristo Rey high schools in 12 cities. I volunteered a few years ago on the ‘Viva!’ scholarship fundraiser event committee at the original Cristo Rey Jesuit High School in Chicago. While doing this I saw first hand just how wonderful the school and it’s students are.

What sets Cristo Rey apart is the innovative internship program that all of its students participate in. Students job share an entry-level clerical position while in school. The income that the students earn is put towards their tuition. This means that in order to get the state mandated 180 days of schooling in the school year and school day are extended. At the same time these young people learn first hand the rewards of getting up every day and going downtown to work. The school serves a primarily Hispanic neighborhood on the near west side of Chicago and many of the students there are the first in their family to graduate from High School, let alone consider going to college. Cristo Rey offers its students an entry into a world that they have not necessarily considered open to them. A world of white-collar knowledge based work in the loop.

I feel that Cristo Rey does these students a great service by giving them the opportunity to earn their education. The students get a top-notch Jesuit education and value it highly because they paid for it. At the same time students gain critical job skills and preparation for a life of working in the white-collar world – something the Chicago Public Schools are never going to prepare them for.

This system really appeals to the conservative in me. These students are not given the ‘hand out’ of a free education. Instead they are given the ‘hand up’ of an opportunity to earn a great education.

If a Cristo Rey school is opening in your city I highly recommend that you consider volunteering there. Perhaps your company would be interested in hiring some great committed kids for an entry level position! You can find a list of existing and future Cristo Rey schools here.


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