Our Story, continued
By Meril Smith, Former Edenvale Principal and Adopt-A-College Founder
In 1987, the Edenvale community had the second highest crack cocaine arrest rate in San Jose. 42% of the children were dropping out of high school, less than 10% continued any education after high school. As a new principal of the local elementary school, I not only found this situation a waste of human potential tragic, but simply unacceptable.
Most parents living in this impoverished community tended to be hard-working employed at minimum wage jobs. The vast majority of families were people of color. Many were immigrants who spoke little English. A majority of the children qualified for the school's free or reduced lunch program. Parents did the very best they could within the limited resources available to them. Like most parents, they wanted a safe community in which to raise their families and a better life for their children. In looking at the arrest rate, the high school dropout rate, and in talking wiht community leaders and staff members, the question was: "Could we really do something to make a difference? If so, what?
The educational research at the time was pretty clear:
By the end of 3rd grade, teachers could predict with 80% accuracy students who were likely to drop out of high school.
Student aspirations, how they saw themselves fitting into society, were firmly established by age 8