May 29, 2012 Herm Card Uncategorized
First, let me make this disclaimer. I have, in the past, been paid by Say Yes to Education, Inc. to photograph their events. In 2009, I was also paid by Say Yes to write a promotional insert for a local daily newspaper. Currently, I am under no financial or other obligation to Say Yes, the Syracuse City School District, or Syracuse University. I am merely a highly experienced educator and education consultant employed to write this column for the Eagle Newspapers.
When I first started teaching, I was under the impressions that my students would learn simply because I was giving them information that I possessed – transferring my knowledge to them – as if by the sheer force of my will, they would learn. What I overlooked in my incredibly naïve approach to education was that there are other factors involved. The success of education involves more than just a means for teachers to pass out information. It involves students having the opportunity to learn.
Being in a classroom is certainly part of the opportunity to learn, but there are far too many impediments to learning that make that a very simplistic concept. The Say Yes to Education partnership with SCSD and Syracuse University involves removing those impediments.
Since we are in a “connected” age, where instant results are the expectation, why would you not expect instant improvement in education because there is a program in place to do that? Well, you may expect it – even demand it – but that’s not how it works.
When you tell me that Say Yes is failing to deliver on its promises, you are unable to tell me how that is true. You are unable to tell me where that information comes from. You are generally unable to make a cogent argument against Say Yes or offer any proof on behalf of the omnipresent nay-saying “They.”
When you tell me that graduation rates have not improved, you are overlooking the fact that the original Say Yes cohort has not yet reached graduation time.
When you tell me that after school programs do not affect classroom performance, you overlook the fact that success begets success. Self-esteem created through after school achievement will most likely generate success in the classroom.
When you tell me that there are no numbers to indicate the success of Say Yes, you are wrong.
Here are some Say Yes numbers – read carefully and you will notice that these numbers also reflect a huge impact on the Syracuse community in terms of social, legal and medical services that cost you nothing, while removing many of the common impediments to education in an urban setting.
Currently, 5,100 SCSD students are enrolled in Say Yes extended day programs and approximately 2,200 students will attend Say Yes extended year programs this summer.
Ninth grade discontinuation (read: dropout) rates decreased by 44 percent from 2009 to 2010.
The ratio of students to social workers improved from 500:1 to 200:1 in all elementary and K-8 schools.
As part of the Promise Zone commitment, SCSD, Say Yes, the Onondaga County Department of Mental Health and community-based organizations are working toward their collective goal of having one mental health clinic in every school in the district by 2013.
Seven Say Yes legal clinics are now open in all quadrants of SCSD and are staffed by five local law firms to provide free legal advice, free service and referrals to families
Of the 315 students who did not have health insurance in 2009, 91 percent have now completed an application through Say Yes in partnership with the Salvation Army.
Say Yes has given out more than $2.5 million in Say Yes scholarships over three years.
Nearly 2,000 SCSD students have enrolled in two- and four-year colleges (public and private) since the fall of 2009.
More than 200 students in grades nine to 12 receive tutoring and SAT prep services at no cost each week through the Say Yes College Preparatory Academy.
An estimated 250 college students will be hired to work as Youth Enrichment Specialists in Say Yes extended year programs this summer.
Say Yes and its partners have raised more than $43 million, during the worst economic downturn in a generation, to create positive change in the lives of urban students
And if you don’t believe me, on May 29 and 30, Say Yes founder George Weiss will be in town to meet with community leaders, students and the public to remind us of Say Yes’ ongoing success and plans for the long term. You’ll find his arguments pretty good, too.
Herm Card is a former teacher with more than 32 years of classroom experience and 20 years as a professional development consultant. His column runs bi-weekly in The Eagle. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.