Luckily, there's some Biblical support for my underdog wrestling matches. Normally, when I think of Biblical underdogs, I think of David and Goliath, and try to interpret the story into "Look what I can do with God's help! Face the giants! And slay them too!" But there's another story, where Jacob wrestles with God (Genesis 32; the Jacob who ends up fathering Joseph with his amazing, technicolor dreamcoat). Jacob is going to meet his brother, whom he has wronged, but spends the entire night before wrestling with God/ an angel of God. If there was ever an uneven match... (Maybe this is an idea for Shaq's new show? Or, to fall closer to the Genesis line, perhaps pitting me against Shaq/ Michael Phelps/ Mohammad Ali?) They wrestle through the night, and the angel ends up wrenching Jacob's hip out of the socket when he sees he can't overpower him. But when the day comes, Jacob, who just spent the night wrestling with an angel of God, ends up getting a new name (Israel) and a blessing. Pretty incredible for Jacob to put up a fight - a good fight - against something that he knew he couldn't win against.
I've been doing some research on dropouts, and this is a match that I/ we/ the nation/ the world can't win, but I think it's something worth wrestling against, even though failure is imminent.
- An estimated 1 in 8 children never graduate from high school
- 60 percent of high school dropouts can be identified in grade six (due to chronic absenteeism, disengagement, school refusal behavior, etc.)
- Minority students, students from low-income families, students will limited English-speaking skills, or who have parents with a high level of mobility are all more likely to drop out before graduation.
- Not only are dropouts severely affected, by social, occupational, and marital problems, etc., but societal costs for dropouts are estimated in the billions between lost revenues, welfare programs, unemployment programs, underemployment, and crime prevention and prosecution.
What can you do, one might (rather, I hope one might) ask? I learned about this website donorschoose.org. It's an online charity that makes it easy for people to help students in need. You can search by location (there are a lot of Ohio projects), by subject (there are a lot of math topics!), cost, poverty level, popularity... Anything that "makes your eyes twinkle!" You can even donate unused portions of gifts cards (the average household has $400 in unused gift cards, according to Plastic Jungle). When you're wondering what to get me for Christmas - this will be it! I know a couple teachers participating in Teach For America that have used this site and receive their projects - a class library, a microscope, and beyond. It's a really good idea.
I respect their wrestling efforts, even though I know they're going to lose. Probably won't even make it into an over-time round.
Christenson, S. (2004). School dropouts: Prevention considerations, interventions, and challenges. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 13(1): 36-39.
Stanley, K. (2008). Improving high school graduation rates. Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP), Indiana University.)