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A proven solution

12/12/2012, 5:25 a.m.
I know school is hard, but like my daddy says, it’s better to work hard now than working even harder as an adult.

A proven solution

Civic-minded Bostonians are concerned about the racial disparity in public school academic achievement. Reports continually indicate that blacks and Latinos lag behind the levels attained by white students. While it is not politically correct to assert that blacks are intellectually inferior, that assumption often becomes a subtle subtext in discussions on the subject.

Results from the annual state-run MCAS tests determine the academic standing of students. Those performing satisfactorily will be ranked in the “advanced” or “proficient” categories. While about 76 percent of the Boston Public Schools (BPS) student body is black or Latino, their test results are on average inferior to those of the 13 percent who are white.

Despite the discouraging BPS results, three charter schools have reversed the test standings. All three have a greater than 90 percent black and Latino student body and the overwhelming majority are from low income families. The third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students at the Brooke Charter School in Roslindale scored 98, 98 and 93 percent either advanced or proficient on the 2012 MCAS mathematics exam, respectively. This was at least 36 percent higher in each grade than the statewide results.

At Roxbury Preparatory School, 80 percent of eighth-graders scored advanced or proficient in math and 86 percent attained those scores in English. White students in the state scored only 60 percent in math and equaled the 86 percent in English. At the Match School, 10th-graders scored 100 percent in English and math and 98 percent in science at the advanced or proficient level.

Students at three charter schools have closed the racial achievement gap. In fact, they have surged ahead. Clearly, any assumption about genetic racial intellectual inferiority is absurd. It is time to implement charter school strategies in public schools to elevate the academic level.

Higher ed: The rational decision

The college football season is over except for the bowl games. College seniors have had their opportunities to attract the notice of the National Football League scouts. For many athletes, the primary objective of college attendance was to demonstrate their athletic prowess. An NFL contract is attractive as an avenue to affluence for young men from families with modest income.

Today’s multimillion dollar contracts inspire many athletically talented college students to dream of life in the NFL. However, the road to professional football stardom can quickly become more like a nightmare. According to reports, about 80,000 students play college football every year. Only about 1,500 athletes are considered to be of sufficient quality to be scouted. That is only about 2 percent of the total college football rosters.

Prospects of being chosen in the draft are then reduced to about 300 players who are invited to participate in the annual NFL combine in February. There are also regional combines for players who did not get invited to the NFL event. The purpose of these combines is to test the athletes for strength, speed, agility and positions skills.

Then comes the draft, a seven-round player selection process in which each team, in accordance with a pre-designated order, chooses their players. This 250-player selection process leaves many undrafted athletes to establish impermanent arrangements with interested teams. However, all of the multimillion dollar contracts go to the drafted players.

It is not easy to reflect on the downside when a great opportunity seems to beckon. For young men considering life as a professional football player, it is nonetheless important to consider the difficulty of being chosen and that life in the NFL is usually for a very short period of time. The attention of young men should remain focused on academic achievement or the development of technical skills. That might be all to sustain you in the long run.