Philadelphia Metropolis

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It's the Student, Not the School

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By Jennifer Gregory

I am a junior communications major at Holy Family University.  I am the Editor-in-Chief of the campus newspaper, co-editor of the literary magazine, and co-vice president of the Equal Student Union.  I work part-time in the campus bookstore and manage to keep a 3.5 GPA.  My life isn't the most difficult, but it's not exactly what I would call a walk in the park.  I'm your typical overworked and underpaid college student - and I love it.

I worked hard to get where I am now.  I didn't need a fancy, high-end private education to get  into college.  All I needed was my Philadelphia public school education and lots of hard work.  It bothers me when I tell people that I'm a graduate of Northeast High School and they grimace, asking me how many fights I've gotten into and how many classes I slept through.  Truth be told, I've never been in a single fight and only slept with my eyes open through my English classes only because the subject came easily to me.  I had great relationships with the majority of my teachers throughout my years in public school and never had a single disciplinary problem.

Northeast High School logo.jpgIt wasn't solely my schooling that shaped me as a goal-oriented individual; it was my upbringing.  While not college graduates, my parents always stressed the importance of doing well in school.  I was to always do my best, no matter what I was doing, because it was a reflection of myself and the kind of person I was

For those people out there accusing the Philadelphia public school system for failing their children, stop for a moment and evaluate your skills as a parent.  Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your child.  Do you encourage them to do better in school?  Have you explained the importance of education?  Do you punish them for bad grades instead of helping them study for that upcoming math test?  Do you even know that your child is going to have a math test?  If you're a parent who is supportive of your child's academic life and they are still struggling, make an appointment with the child's teacher.  Have your child present at the meeting so that they can have input in the discussions.  A child deserves to be a part of that decision-making process.

There are times, particularly in the late years of high school, when some students decide to give up on school and academic success.  I hate to be the one to say this, but it is true: a student like that is not worth the time and effort of keeping focused. Life needs to run its course.  Perhaps, in time, the student will realize his or her mistakes and turn their academic life around.  However, there are just some people out there that will never excel academically.  It's not the school system's fault if this person decides not to put forth the effort into receiving a quality education

During sophomore year of high school, I worked in the dean's office for one period a day.  Even though I was only stapling papers together and filing folders, I was witness to the ugliest side of my school.  Students would come in handcuffed by the school security guards trying to swing their fists, uttering some of the most terrible words I ever heard.  It wasn't really my place, but I remember talking to one girl, who I will call Amy.  I asked Amy why she thought it was necessary to flip her desk over because the teacher asked her to put her cell phone away.  She replied that she didn't care what the teacher said to her.  "I'm not going to college anyway.  I don't need to pay attention.  All I need is my friends and I was talking to them on my phone.  School doesn't matter."

Does the Philadelphia public school system have a problem with low test scores and unmotivated students?  Yes, but on a school-to school basis, this is not true.  Each school in the public school system has a unique feel and method of operation.  In some cases, it may be the school that is incompatible with the student, but not the public education system as a whole.  Besides, even every Philadelphia public school was performing poorly in standardized tests scores, that would not stop the production of intelligent, successful graduates.  To a hard-working student, numbers don't mean anything.  Whether facing the bill of their private education or the percentile they must score in on a standardized test, a diligent student will find a way to succeed.

The next time someone scrunches their nose up when you tell them you're a product of the Philadelphia public school system, laugh it off and ask them where they went school and how successful they are.  The answers may surprise you.

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