Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Reason to Race #24: For the Kids Who Still Race

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Let's address the elephant in my cyber room. Those of you who have visited my Crowdrise fundraising site may have noticed my absurd fundraising goal of $25,000. If you haven't seen it, here's how my progress looks:

Though the generosity of friends and family, I've raised $1285, which is no small amount. Still, I knew going into this that the chances of raising $25,000 were more or less impossible. So why set the goal so high? There are a few reasons...

#1 Because that's what it feels like to face something which seems impossibly far away despite all your hard work and the support of many. Being aware that this is a reality for so many of my students who envision an excellent education for themselves gives me a glimmer of perspective. It's no wonder that it seems so daunting and unreachable, and much more of an impervious reality than an arbitrary number on a fundraising site.

#2 The average annual cost of college in-state at a public university is $18,391. The average cost for a private college is $40, 917. Even if we get beyond the misconstrued use of the word public to describe our state university systems, the reality is there are too many students for too few spots at these schools. Even if a student gets in, aid is sparse and usually falls well short of covering expenses at even the public universities.

#3 The public annual cost of $18,391 would consume more than 3/4 of the total annual household income for a family of four living at or below the federal poverty line.

#4 The school-to-prison pipeline is stronger than the school-to-college pipeline in impoverished communities. These communities and the children who live in them have less access to high achieving schools and resources. Instead, they have access to the plagues of poverty: fear and crime.

#5 See these articles on how our education system is still a) inequitable and b) racist: "American Schools are Still Racist, Government Report Finds" & School Data Finds Pattern of Inequality Along Racial Lines.

#6 Because a shocking number of students I have taught in NYC simply ended up without a zoned public school at the end of the "public" application process. Where do families go when there is no public school which says, "We'll take your child"? They turn to private schools to fill that basic education need. The average tuition for a year of private school in NYC is $39,700 per year. While schools, like Mandell, are working earnestly to supply enough aid to families of pretty amazing students left without a public home, it's impossible to cover the extensive need.

#7 Because even despite these obstacles, I hope that my students and their families will continue to fight for educational opportunities. There are a lot of brick walls, but there are open doors and people to help along the way.

So, I'm going to fail in raising my $25,000. I knew that before I started this journey. I told myself I would likely get my straight A's in swim training, hit my target scores for pacing, and finish the physical race strong...all the while failing in one major goal. I wanted this experience because it's only a drop in the ocean compared to the feelings of inadequacy and failure millions of students really live through. And yet, they still race--Reason to Race #24.

If you'd like to contribute to my race cause, Scholarship America, which funds open doors instead of brick walls, please donate by clicking the link below. Thank you so much for your support, sharing, liking, retweeting, and other forms of support! It really means the world to me. #thumbsup

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