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### Enhancing Academic Success: Unveiling the Solution for Struggling Schools

We are aware of the methods to rescue children from failing schools, so why aren’t these strategies being implemented? | The Hill

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In 44 public schools in Chicago, the performance in math is at grade level. In 24 Chicago schools, not a single student is reading at grade level.

In Baltimore, not a single student at 13 of its public high schools — a quarter of the city’s high schools — demonstrated proficiency in math at the grade level last year.

This trend is evident in a majority of public school systems across the nation, despite some of these schools having the highest expenditures per pupil. Finger-pointing occurs in various directions — attributing issues to systemic racism or dysfunction within families. However, where can we find the solution? Surprisingly, it lies in one of the poorest states in the country: Mississippi.

In a small school in the Pine Belt region of the state, Black children excel regardless of their family’s income level. These students are accepted to colleges at rates of 90% or even 100%.

This success story should spark our interest. Why do some children from challenging environments thrive while others struggle? This should not only arouse our curiosity but also prompt us to take action. If the failures in Chicago and Baltimore are not inevitable, they are certainly not acceptable either.

The Piney Woods School stands out as a beacon of educational and moral excellence since its establishment over a century ago. Students from similar backgrounds to those in struggling schools in Chicago and Baltimore flourish here.

This success can be attributed to the school being a community with teachers, staff, and students dedicated to a specific mission, rather than an externally imposed experiment. Additionally, the school offers a comprehensive moral and intellectual education.

The effectiveness of fostering relationships based on shared morality has been demonstrated by community-based efforts to reduce [ppp1]. The most effective solutions to a community’s problems often originate from within the community itself. The same principle applies to enhancing educational attainment levels.

While most education reform efforts focus on measurable top-down factors like curriculum quality, discipline standards, and teaching methods, the Piney Woods School’s success transcends these aspects. When students fully embrace a culture of excellence modeled by beloved and trusted teachers, the specifics of the curriculum become secondary.

The “No Excuses” education reform movement of the 1990s emphasized charter schools assisting low-income and minority students in achieving higher test scores within a strict framework. However, this approach lost popularity as it became evident that academic achievement in low-income communities is more complex than a simple two-word mantra. The Piney Woods School, established in 1909, never tolerated excuses and continues to uphold this standard.

While good educational policies promoting parental choice are essential, they alone are not adequate to enhance academic achievement. Policies cannot instill greatness in children; effective leadership emerges when individuals with moral authority shape students’ character through personal example rather than mere lectures.

Piney Woods instills virtues in its students and nurtures these qualities within them. The institution is led and operated by individuals who have personally overcome hardships and teach students to do the same.

Values like resilience, perseverance, and self-determination have been integral to indigenous Black institutions for generations. Piney Woods students do not wait for external intervention to overcome challenges; they possess the skills and character to triumph over adversity.

Despite facing hardships at home, students at Piney Woods achieve excellence, embodying a spirit of resilience and victory rather than victimhood. Inspired by the school’s founder Laurence Jones, who established a successful Black school amid severe discrimination during the Jim Crow era in Mississippi.

A new [ppp1] recounts the remarkable story of this school, hopefully sparking interest in similar institutions. Rather than succumbing to another fleeting education reform trend, our children do not need pampering; they require empowered community leaders who embody and promote excellence, self-sacrifice, and virtue.

We have a proven model for success in schools like Piney Woods and in renowned educators like Marva Collins and Jaime Escalante, who never made excuses for their students’ challenging circumstances.

We can provide children from the most dire situations with the prospect of a rigorous education and a life guided by true self-governance — and because we have the capacity to do so, we must.

_Bob Woodson is the founder and president of The Woodson Center and the author of “._“


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