But a new federal program, Race to the Top, aims to stand that stereotype on its ear by building residential schools to give under-performing students – many of them minorities – a boost to academic success.
In South Dakota’s case, that means Native students. The state is trying to become one of a handful to participate in Race to the Top, so that it can build a school, likely in the Black Hills, where students in grades 9-12 would live year-round.
The school, estimated to cost between $20 million and $75 million, would also include two years of post-secondary education.
As Dirk Lammers of the Associated Press reports here:
The Obama administration is looking for innovative, outside-the-box ideas that have proven to meet the needs of a state’s most underperforming students, said state Department of Education Secretary Tom Oster….
“We think that our application meets all of those,” Oster said.
Curriculum would focus on science, technology, engineering and math to address the nation’s need for scientists and engineers.
The initiative also infuses Indian family culture by establishing partnerships with tribal communities. Students would receive additional support through mentoring, internships, research experiences and cultural guidance
South Dakota would build on its Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, or “GEAR UP,” honors program, which also targets Native students. In the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal photo above, Sherade Left Wich, center, of Pine Ridge listens during a GEAR UP health class.
That program has had an impressive success rate, with all of its students graduating from high school, and 87 percent pursing college. Of the latter group, 67 percent have either graudated or are still enrolled, says program director Stacy Phelps.
The South Dakota Board of Education is going to review the proposal next week. What do you think? Should they go for it?