Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Can Achieve at High Levels at Raines and Ribault

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Students Can Achieve at High Levels at Raines and Ribault

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

Jeremiah Cesar's International Baccalaureate diploma will be good for more than just college.

It'll come in handy when Cesar - who graduated from Ribault High School and now attends the University of West Florida - prepares to compete for a job in this global, knowledge-based economy. It's an economy that, each day, renders many occupations obsolete and creates new ones that require critical and adaptive thinking skills.

Skills that Cesar mastered in IB.

And, on top of that, it's an economy that needs not just youths like Cesar, or his peers who earned IB diplomas at Stanton College Preparatory School or Paxon School for Advanced Studies. It'll also need the youths who didn't earn the diploma, but who stuck with the fledgling program and grappled with its challenges.

Which is why the fact that only two students earned diplomas from Ribault's IB program - 13 finished the program - shouldn't be viewed through the lens of failure.

It should be viewed through the lens of possibility.

Anthony Jewett, co-founder of the National Center for Global Engagement, an Atlanta-based organization that seeks to educate students of color in a way that exposes them to global realities, sees it that way.

"The question shouldn't be how many completed it [the IB diploma] but what else do we need to do to help more kids get more out of it," said Jewett, who once served as a bilingual elementary school teacher in New York City with Teach for America, and who now manages the center's K-12 Education Group.

"Kids at high-needs schools will not step out into a world that forgives them for going to a high-needs school ... we're going to have to set a bar that's going to allow them to lead in a global society."

There are steps that Ribault can take to expose more students to its IB program. Unfortunately, those steps are tied to issues that have little to do with the quality of that program and more to do with the stigmatization of the school. …

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