Saturday, December 16, 2017

Our Neighborhood High Schools in Transition

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, RISE has been working with two high schools in the lowest income neighborhoods in the city, Anacostia Senior High School and Ballou Senior High School, since 2010.  In 2014, RISE and Anacostia High School ended their partnership, and this past August, RISE and Ballou High School did as well.   

Ballou’s principal was reassigned in late November after reports that the school was graduating students who did not meet minimum requirements and were absent for more than ninety days in a year.   

Our goal at RISE is to work with principals and schools to help their kids succeed – to pass and excel in their classes, to attend school consistently, and to reach beyond high school to college.  Despite all the chaos around them, more than forty Anacostia and Ballou students in RISE's College Prep Plus program have forged ahead to make college enrollment and completion a reality. 

High schools in Southeast Washington, DC, face many challenges.  It takes strong leadership plus support of the school system and numerous other partners to help students develop the skills and knowledge that will serve them into adulthood.  

However, passing students who attend less than half their classes and forcing teachers into ethical dilemmas that impact teachers' careers, as happened at Ballou, do not serve students well.  Working in such an environment is difficult for RISE.  Schools have pressures to produce better data such as better attendance, fewer suspensions, better scores, or more college matriculation.

It is not easy for school leadership and teachers to achieve positive results when more than 90% of the students live in single-parent households, most live in poverty and struggle to meet their basic needs, and they are surrounded by violence, drugs and other forms of abuse. 

Even in the most challenging of circumstances, we see and celebrate students’ success.  We hope to see Ballou and Anacostia High Schools overcome their challenges of leadership and staff retention, and with the support of community partners and supporters, persevere to meet their students’ needs.  These are environments where RISE can be of maximum service and value to their students.

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