Sunday, December 26, 2004

Taking advantage of NCLB

Today's Chicago Tribune portrays the
heroic efforts
of a black child to get a good education. Her neighborhood school is so lousy that she is willing to make many sacrifices to go to a better school. Now wouldn't it be a challenge to turn her neighborhood school around?

Going the extra mile to succeed
Driven student out to make the most of school transfer

By Stephanie Banchero
Tribune staff reporter
Published December 26, 2004

Kesedria Carter stands in the vestibule, her lanky body hunched against the bricks to keep the whipping wind off her face, her hands jammed into her pockets. She pokes her head around the corner, pigtails flapping against her face, and searches down Montrose Avenue for the No. 78 bus.

It's 7:25 in the morning and the 10-year-old is on her way to school with her mom, two hours before the morning bell.

Kesedria's neighborhood school is just two blocks away from her Lincoln Square apartment, but the 5th grader is setting out on a 20-minute journey to a better school in a different neighborhood.

She is one of more than 700 Chicago students using the No Child Left Behind law this year to escape her struggling school and transfer into a better one. Kesedria left a school where fewer than half the students passed state exams and 20 percent of teachers are not properly trained. She enrolled in a school where two-thirds of children met the mark and 95 percent of teachers are fully certified.

Kesedria's story shows that the landmark federal education reform can provide new hope for some students.

But it also demonstrates that making these opportunities work requires a daily, single-minded commitment from all those involved--in this case, from Kesedria, from her mother and from the teachers and administrators at her new school, Stockton Elementary, all of whom go out of their way to pursue success.

Kesedria's mom, Karen Brown, wakes up at 5:30 and drops off her daughter at school by about 7:50. She gets back on the bus and travels about 45 minutes through six neighborhoods to her job as a dental assistant. Brown is supposed to be at work by 7, but her boss allowed the tardiness to let Brown take her daughter to Stockton.

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