Wednesday, July 22, 2009

school's can't do it alone

I was struck by an article I read the other day by James Traub*. His research makes makes indicates that if we are to seriously close the gap in academic achievement that exists between students of color, poor students, and their white and wealthier peers then we have to look at all the elements (not just schools) that help create achievement in a young person’s life. It’s a grim reality that educators/youth workers cannot be the saving grace that turns a kid’s life around but we sure as hell can try. Sociologist James Coleman consistently pointed out that: "we now expect the school to provide all the child’s human and social capital – an impossibility” (7). In the inner-city, where institutions have disintegrated, and mothers often keep children locked inside out of fear for their safety, social capital hardly exists. Schools can’t do it all. Parents can’t do it all either. We have to look to other support networks and institutions to seriously impact a young person’s life (8). Enter Project Coach…“The critical task is thus to change “the ecology of the lower-class child in order to increase the probability that he will be more successful in attaining normative skills. How do you alter that ecology?” (8). What’s the ecology of a teenager? It seems like there are three big areas in a teens life: school, after-school and home. One of the reasons I believe in Project Coach, and after-school programs in general, is that it can play a pivotal role in influencing a teenager’s life. 

*"What No School Can Do" Sunday, January 16, 2000 New York Times Magazine by James Traub

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Purpose of the PC blog

One of our goals at Project Coach is to share and document our the work that we do in our program. We do this in a variety of ways: we write about our program, we have developed mini video documentaries available on youtube, we have been featured on the tv news, we have given presentations at academic conferences, we have let other writers spend time with us to develop stories, we have developed college and graduate courses focused on the ideas that comprise PC, secured funding for graduate student fellowships so students can come to Smith and experience PC as a 'laboratory afterschool' experience, and, finally, we are a site where students, both from Smith and other colleges, can come to study the work we do and write research projects on our program.

What binds these elements together is a commitment to tell the story of our efforts at Project Coach and to track and document what we do, why we do it, and to be thoughtful about the outcomes we both achieve and strive to accomplish more successfully.

This blog is just another tool in our effort to share our work.