Public education wins again!
Lottery sales generating cash to help African American students succeed
OW Staff Writer | 10/31/2013, midnight
Kenya Jackson knew she had to do something. The principal at View Park Preparatory Accelerated Charter Middle School in Los Angeles noticed that the “smart, bright young lady” was suddenly failing school. Jackson says even more disturbing was the fact the 8th grader wasn’t eating. “I found out her parents were homeless. She had nowhere to go. So, I actually had her live with me for a couple of weeks–she ate well, her grades shot up,” Jackson recalled with pride.
Things have gotten better–much better. That “smart, bright young lady” is now thriving in high school and looking forward to going to college. Jackson admits she will never forget her face. “She is what I call a ‘bullet-proof’ kid,” added the principal, who admits the daily challenges of educating can be overwhelming at times. “Unfortunately, it’s not unusual for students in under-resourced areas to have seen loved ones killed by gang violence or have lost relatives to other forms of violence. We do what we can to help.”
Jackson oversees one of a dozen Inner City Education Foundation (ICEF) schools, where 83 percent of the 4,200 students come from low-income families. Despite all of the hardships, the network of K-12 charter schools is known for sending African American students from South Los Angeles to some of the top colleges in the country.
“In this neighborhood, more than half of the students drop out of high school and less than 10 percent go on to graduate from college,” said ICEF CEO Parker Hudnut. “We are changing that by preparing students from an early age to be successful in college and in life, and every bit of supplemental (Lottery) funding is helping to make that a reality.” ICEF’s 2013 senior class received more than $1 million in college scholarships.
Thanks in part to the California Lottery, the resources the ICEF schools depend on to provide excellent programs in the “three A’s” (academics, arts and athletics) continue to arrive in the form of much-needed financial support. The final numbers for this past fiscal year are out, and the figures are once again impressive. Sales of Lottery products ended up generating $1.28 billion for students.
While that huge amount is impressive, it does become more modest once divided up between all of California’s 1,600 public school districts. Regardless, it’s the 13th consecutive year more than a billion dollars have been distributed to California public schools!
“It’s a great thing. We can provide high-quality books,” said Jackson, whose school received nearly $100,000 in supplemental funding this past fiscal year. “Every day, our students drop everything and read for 30 minutes.”
At E.C. Reems Academy of Technology and Arts in Oakland, administrators say they use a majority of their supplemental Lottery funding to help pay for 75 percent of the books that make up the library. Every drop in the bucket counts. “For a small school library, without these (Lottery funds) we just wouldn’t have the books,” explained Executive Director Lisa Blair. “Large and small amounts all contribute to providing materials students need.”