As I look back on my Frisch career, I think about all of the times when I inadvertently made schoolwork harder for myself. I made a big deal about small assignments, left things to the last minute, and so on. Yet here I am, on the last leg of my journey through Frisch, purposefully making school more difficult. Why, you ask? I advise you to buckle your seatbelt, because this will blow you out of the water...
I want to actually learn something during my senior year.
I know, I'm crazy. Feel free to mock.
Instead of combining my Tikvah paper with the Frisch LEADS project, I am leaning towards working on two totally different topics. Yes, I'll have more work, but I'm optimistic about how much I will learn in the process.
And now (drum roll please), presenting what I hope will be my final topic: education inequality.
Over the past year, I have developed an interest in and a passion for education reform. One specific area in which I am interested is education inequality, particularly in urban school systems. I have been privileged to attend well funded private yeshiva day schools all my life. I have spent my days in beautiful facilities with high-tech classrooms and benefited from a plethora of enrichment programs and extracurricular activities. I have taken for granted things like adequate lighting, intact textbooks and exposure to the arts. The more I read about education, the more shocked I become. The gaps between private and public schools, and well funded public schools and under-funded public schools are extraordinarily wide! During my excursions into the large network of educators on twitter, Facebook and blogging sites, I have learned that this problem has existed for decades. For years and years, urban youth have been getting the short end of the stick. Education is of primary importance for youth living in urban areas, where there tends to be more violence, substance abuse and the like. Yet we've substantially reduced the chances that these young people will one day move up the socioeconomic ladder. We are prolonging-- possibly worsening-- the general socioeconomic rift in our country.
For my project, I want to thoroughly examine the state of American public education with an eye toward urban schools. I would like to look at issues that arise in these schools due to the socioeconomic standing of the students, as well as the amount of funding that the respective schools receive from the government. For part two of project, I want to find creative, implementable solutions to the problems I have explored. In terms of finding sources, I am planning to a read a book or two by Jonathan Kozol, an educator who has dedicated his life to acting and writing on behalf of inner-city students. Hopefully, his writings will give me an overview of the current situation, and perhaps some specifics. There are many other books, essays, articles and blog posts on this topic, so I don't think I will have a problem finding sources of information. In addition, I would love to visit an under-funded school in New York City and talk to students, teachers and administrators about their experiences with education inequality. As a final project, I'm thinking about starting Ramp It Up, a non-profit organization that Mrs. Wiener, Eddie Maza, and I have been planning to create. The organization would provide study help for AP students who do not have the resources that most private school students are fortunate enough to have- multiple review books, flashcards, lists and summaries given out by teachers, practice tests, etc. Hopefully, my understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of public education will inform how we structure the organization.
People within the Jewish community often talk about the yeshiva day school "bubble". I consider myself to be a fairly open minded individual, generally knowledgable about issues that do not effect the Jewish community. Yet, I cannot deny the fact that growing up in the comfort of the Jewish day school system has made me virtually ignorant to the unique challenges of public education. Hopefully, this project can help me burst that bubble once and for all.