Sunday, May 27, 2007

Open Door Policy

I just read a really inspiring New York Times Article: Elite Colleges Open New Door to Low Income Youth

It chronicled a growing acknowledgment that providing opportunities to low income students to enter "selective" programs--which are typically dominated by more affluent individuals--provides excellent opportunities for social mobility for the working poor and poverty stricken.

This isn't the first article that I've read about traditional academic powerhouses, including Ivy League Schools, opening their doors to talented lower income students. However, it struck a bright chord with me because I've just finished reading Adrian Nicole LeBlanc's compelling non-fiction account of 2 Hispanic families in the Bronx during the rise of the drug epidemic during the late 80s and that continued to plague the 90s (Random Family).

The book realistically portrayed how it is to survive on meager incomes, in the worse neighborhoods in the country, with little support and/or guidance. The book was great yet bleak.

So coming off of reading the book, this article is exactly what I needed to read. I needed to feel that some do escape, that some can aspire to the American dream, instead of a life of frustration and poverty.

So reading this article was just what I needed. It really focused on something that I've said to people many times: socioeconomic factors can often be more powerful influences than age, sex, race, or sexual orientation. Seeing doors opened to give these kids the opportunities to pull themselves, and hopefully their families, from the same environments (breaking the cycle), is all that one can ask for.

I suppose this is the new Affirmative Action. I'm sure it will have it's share of critics as well. I hope that individuals like Mr. Jack will make people open their minds and that such programs become common place in this great country.


Liza said...

I enjoyed this article as well. “Has anyone here ever actually seen a food stamp?” So true! How many times did I discuss theoretical poverty while being completely ignorant about the actual experience of poverty.

I attended an elite college myself, and professors would act as though everyone was coming from a middle-class background, which was mostly the case. I was speaking to some alums last week, and they were extolling the diversity of my college campus. I was the only person who seemed to lament the economic homogenity of the student body.

An interesting book that explores the issues of racial, ethnic, and socioeconimic diversity in education is Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

Excalibur said...

I've been meaning to respond to your comment for the longest Liza.

1. I completely agree with you. It's very easy to say "those people" when you are removed from a situation, perhaps discussing poverty over a frapuccino. It's very different to be around someone that has experienced a certain lifestyle, a certain situation.

2. I've had my eyes opened up on many issues based on having someone come into my life and make me think twice about my beliefs on: interracial relationships, religious conflict, feminism, sexuality...

3. I would love to read the book that you mention. Thank you for passing on the word and for not being afraid to leave your comment.