As the years quickly past, reality sets in for many of the dreamers. Is the promise of a full-ride to college enough to outweigh environmental factors? Check out this excerpt from part 2:
Being a Dreamer was supposed to give Darone a different future from the guys he saw loitering on the streets of Capitol Heights. But staying focused enough to take advantage of the opportunity was challenging. At Northwestern High School, there were temptations everywhere. In the cafeteria, one of Darone’s Seat Pleasant classmates, Jeffery Norris, hosted poker games. At certain times in the hallway, there was a mini-casino, where Darone and another Dreamer buddy, the raucous prankster William Smith, played cards. There were girls, more of them than Darone had ever seen under one roof. Who wanted to sit in class when there was much more fun outside the door?
More than halfway through his freshman year, Darone was failing English and biology. He talked back to his teachers. He skipped classes and then erased the automated phone messages the school left reporting his absences before his mother could hear them.
His mother was summoned to a meeting, where Proctor warned Darone that he could lose his scholarship money.
“Shape up, or you’re not going to make it,” Darone remembers being told.
While reading today’s piece, I could not help drawing similarities from the realities that these students faced and the life experiences of my peers in small-town Bridgeton, N.J. Where you live is not supposed to dictate your future. Ideally, education is supposed to be “the great equalizer.” However, can education alone put children on the path to college and halt the cycle of poverty for families? Is a school a force that can be stronger than peer and neighborhood influences. I think it can, if we choose to simultaneously build stronger communities and decrease the level of economic inequality in the United States.
Continue reading over at the Washington Post.