On Tuesday, I was at an elementary school in DC where I met with the principal. She is a dynamic and effective leader, and the school is improving as a result. Presently, the school-wide percentage for reading at a proficient level is 41%. One grade, however, has 0% of the children at proficiency. One hundred percent of these kids are below proficiency. This is our challenge and our calling, and, in this particular situation, we will go and work with this grade in a focused manner this coming fall. We will set a goal of 100% proficiency for these children by the end of next year. Our approach will be focused, purposeful, and with the commitment these kids need and deserve. Their lives will not be lost because they could not learn.
Yesterday, we went back to southeast DC to visit a woman whose home we will be furnishing. The inside of the building smelled like many other buildings in which we have been over the years. That is to say, the hallway and stairwell smelled more like urine than anything else. The woman’s apartment had just a few items, and yet she was strong, working six days per week, double shifts, and giving her all for her kids. Her back story includes escaping to DC due to domestic violence. As for her kids, they can not go outside because she will not let them go outside when they come home from school, it is too dangerous. That is what poverty brings to them. If the kids make it to adulthood, they will have had a childhood with no memories of playing outside their home. And just making it to adulthood without crime, prison, or becoming a parent by age 16 will mean they dramatically beat the odds.
This is part of what makes us at A Wider Circle want to significantly grow this effort. Can you help? Can we stop tolerating urine-filled apartment hallways and stairwells?
The push is on. We are moving with more urgency and creativity, and we will succeed quicker and before we lose too many more lives with your help.
Third graders should read at a third grade level. Every kid should be able to play outside after school.