Tag Archive for charter school

Our Tour of Gompers Preparatory Academy


L to R: Susan Madden Lankford, Jenny Parsons, and Cecil Steppe

For more photos see the Gompers Album on our Google+ Page! 

We had the pleasure of being given a personal tour of Gompers Preparatory Academy. It is an inspiring place, one in which the building blocks of many futures are laid. Here is a snippet of their mission statement:

The mission of Gompers Preparatory Academy, in partnership with University of California, San Diego & our community, is to accelerate academic achievement for ALL students through a college preparatory culture & curriculum.

GPA prides itself on preparing students for college and the professional world and beyond through a combination of rigorous academic curriculum, comprehensive life skills courses, and wide-ranging enrichment opportunities. GPA offers an all-encompassing education engaging all facets of student development.

The tour, which we thoroughly enjoyed, was given by Cecil Steppe and Jenny Parsons. Cecil is the Chairman of Gompers. He is also the Former President and CEO of San Diego Urban League and served as San Diego’s former Chief of Probation for 12 years. Jenny Parsons is their Chief Business Officer.

As our guides led the way, we were graciously welcomed by Gompers teachers, Director Vincent Riveroll,  and 900 students dressed in sharp uniforms, lined up and ready to walk through the Gates of Wisdom. It was quite an experience.

The three and a half hour tour included several interesting stops. One part that was particularly touching was the experience of hearing personal stories of success from five of their seniors. In addition, we were treated to  a special presentation by a lovely female vocalist and her fellow pianist, as well as a visit into their computer and chess labs. You can find the pictures that we took during the tour in the Gompers Album on our Google+ Page!

-Susan Madden Lankford 

Here is a quick video about Gompers to give you a little context. They are doing some really fantastic things!


“Race to the Top” Winners Overwhelmingly East Coast

Schoolhouse“One size fits all” is not an adage that applies to social issues. It’s especially true in the case of education. Most of the issues we at HUMANE EXPOSURES cover in our books are affected by access to quality education. From the homeless issues presented in downTownUSA: A Personal Journey with the Homeless to the inside view of female imprisonment shared in Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time, we see education as a frequent backbeat to the overall story.

Thus it is with great interest that we follow news of innovation in the realm of education. Unfortunately, the news is not always good. Last Tuesday, the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the most recent states to win the “Race to the Top” competition. While that would seem to be good news, there do seem to be a few troubling details. There is an odd geographic footprint to the awards distributed by this Obama Administration’s signature educational initiative.

You see, with the exception of Hawaii, all of the states that were awarded major grants under the program are east of the Mississippi, and the majority of them hug the eastern seaboard. Oddly enough, my home state of Louisiana, which was considered a shoe-in for funding, has received nothing under the program.

Some good arguments are made by these states that chose not to vie for the funds, as Sam Dillon reports for The New York Times:

Educators in many of the states that did not win, or did not even participate in the competition — which includes every state from Tennessee west to the Pacific — said they were hamstrung from the outset.

They said the competition’s rules tilted in favor of densely populated Eastern states, which tend to embrace more the ideas that Washington currently considers innovative, including increasing the number of charter schools and firing principals in chronically failing schools.

But those rules have seemed a poor fit for the nation’s rural communities and sparsely populated Western regions, experts said.

In small towns, for example, there is often just one school, so setting up a parallel charter school might not be feasible. It can also be hard to attract principals to such communities. And many of rural states do not have the resources or staff to write sophisticated grant applications.

While adding funding to our strained school system is something that is obviously needed, the needs and resources of the communities in question need to be evaluated before we declare that something is “the right choice,” for everyone. One size does not fit all.

Source: “Eastern States Dominate in Winning School Grants,” The New York Times, 08/24/10
Image by Nicholas T., used under its Creative Commons license.

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