The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Reality Check

June 25, 2008

Every day a reality check at city’s ‘poorest’ school

Janie Carey works at the intersection of poverty and education.

Carey is principal at Thurgood Marshall Elementary on Station Avenue, where more than 90 percent of the 240 or so students are economically disadvantaged: that is, eligible for a free or reduced lunch.

Teachers there do much more than teach, Carey says. They become involved in the lives of their students to the point they drive them to family night and other special events at the school, buy tickets for them to attend attractions the students otherwise would never get to experience, and come in early and stay late to make sure their charges get the best possible education and start in life.

In a typical day last month , Carey had to deal with a male parent who was crying because he did not want his children to end up in juvenile detention like he had, a sobbing child who needed the prescription medication her parent presumably sold on the street and three ill students, including one threatening suicide, who required emergency medical intervention.

The doors of this inner-city school swing both ways, especially around the first of the month, when the rent comes due. In the first semester of this school year, there were 203 new entries/ withdrawals. In an average year, more than 40 percent of the school’s population will turn over as the families bounce from rental to rental.

“We have a very large rental population,” Carey says. “We see that change the first of the month. Every first of the month, we gain a few, and we lose a few.”

Carey has a heart for these students and their parents, although she and the teachers seldom see the latter. For example, for student conferences in February, Carey counted only 10 parents who took the time to meet with their children’s teachers.

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Reality Check
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