The High School That Follows Its Students to College

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 01/02/2020 - 3:45am in

Visiting Days: How a Detroit High School Extends Its Family Feel By Sticking With Graduates through College,” was originally published by Chalkbeat, a nonprofit news organization covering public education. Sign up for their newsletters here.

If you graduate from the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy and go on to college, there is no escaping Katherine Grow. She’ll call, she’ll email and she’ll show up on campus. And usually, during those campus visits, she’ll ask to see your phone.

The cell phones are a gateway to the college grades of the Detroit charter school’s graduates, and looking in is a key way that Grow monitors how those students are faring.

Grow is Jalen Rose’s alumni success coordinator, an unusual position that reckons head-on with a reality that many schools serving low-income students face: Too many students head off to college and never graduate. Some charter networks and private schools have launched initiatives to stay involved in students’ college lives and academic success, but it’s rare for stand-alone schools like Jalen Rose to employ someone just to work with graduates.

As the number of graduates has swelled to 450 since Jalen Rose opened in 2011, Grow’s challenge has gotten bigger, too. In the fall of 2019, Grow traveled more than 2,600 miles to visit Jalen Rose alumni at colleges and universities across Michigan. She often tears up as she greets the students on their college campuses, touched by how they’ve transformed into young adults pursuing their dream.

“That’s the piece that sustains me, that makes me get up, that makes me drive two hours to a campus,” Grow said. “We’re doing the work to create the change that needs to happen.”

A strategy to combat dismal statistics

For many Detroit teens, getting to college is just the beginning. An analysis done by the Detroit College Access Network found that of students who graduated from high school in 2015 and enrolled in college, 74 percent made it through a second year. But only 41 percent of them had accumulated 24 credit hours, which would put them on track for college graduation.

It isn’t just a Detroit problem. Nationally, just 60 percent of students overall who enroll at four-year institutions earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. The graduation rate is much lower for black students (40 percent) and low-income students (49 percent) — exactly the students that Jalen Rose serves — as well as for Hispanic students (55 percent).

Two of those students — Kashia Perkins and Demetrius Robinson — graduated from Jalen Rose and got visits from Grow in their first semester.

Perkins and Robinson were committing to college when they signed up to attend Jalen Rose, a school with an enrollment of just over 400 that’s oriented totally toward getting students not just to college but through it. Where many schools the same size might have a single college counselor, Jalen Rose has a four-person college team. Students talk about college starting in ninth grade, and at their graduation recite a pledge committing to another four years — at least — of schooling. And graduates know that not only will Grow be checking up on them, but they can rely on others at the school to provide guidance, or to just keep in touch.

Posted by Jalen Rose Leadership Academy on Wednesday, December 11, 2019


Back in November, Grow sat down with Robinson during a long day at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant.

As she met with Jalen Rose graduates, she pointed out and asked questions about missing assignments and low test scores. She also asked direct questions about how the students are adjusting socially, offered guidance when roommate squabbles came up, and checked to make sure the students weren’t dealing with financial problems. If they are, or they have other problems they need help with, Grow works to connect them with the resources they need.

At the end of each meeting, she left each student with advice and an improvement plan.

Robinson walked away from his half-hour meeting feeling like he’d aced it. He had to explain away some missing assignments, telling Grow that he had problems getting notifications of the work due on his phone. He walked her through his decision to change his major from athletic training to kinesiology. And he showed her a four-year plan he’d developed with his campus adviser.

Grow saw Robinson’s promise — but also urged him to stay focused on his academic goals.

“It’s time to buckle down and get some things done so you can … finish strong,” she told him.

“Of course, Ms. Grow,” Robinson answered. “I always stay focused. I’ve been on top of my game.”

A schoolwide focus on college

Grow isn’t the only person committed to the college success of students at Jalen Rose. From the principal, Wendie Lewis, down to support staff, everyone at the school plays a role.

During the school’s senior pinning ceremony and college decision day event, students and their parents are asked to pledge to finish college, reading all together:

I commit to attending class every day, giving my absolute best effort on all assignments and tasks given, seeking help when I need it, ensuring that I renew my FAFSA each year, staying in constant contact with JRLA, taking advantage of my resources and opportunities in college, having fun and enjoying my time in college, graduating with a degree, certificate and/or a license.

The words that Robinson, Perkins and their classmates recited that day in May would become part of a contract they signed — an illustration of how seriously this school takes college success.

Our scholars from the Detroit Revitalization and Business Mentorship Program got to enjoy a lecture from Marcus Collins…

Posted by Jalen Rose Leadership Academy on Friday, February 8, 2019


“We do push college,” David Williams, director of college graduation for Promise Schools, the company that manages the school, said during the ceremony. “We know what college can do. We know what the research says. The more education you have, the more money you make, the better prepared you are to take care of yourself and your family.”

Malika Velinor and Williams lead the college team that includes Grow. The team provides intense support to students to help them through the college application, preparation and enrollment process. They connect students to mentors. They help them apply for scholarships. They teach them about the challenges they’ll face. And they teach them how they can overcome those challenges.

Grow, when she’s not connecting with alums, also works to build relationships — and strong partnerships — with colleges and universities. One such partnership with a program at Central Michigan, which provides support for first-generation students, allows Grow to receive regular updates on how the Jalen Rose alums who are part of that program are doing on campus.

Ashley Johnson, director of the Detroit College Access Network, an organization that coordinates efforts to ensure all students in the city have the opportunity to attend college, said that of the 51 high schools in and around Detroit that they work with, only two others have someone similar to Grow.

Johnson said the others include the Detroit Edison Public School Academy, one of the top-performing charter schools in the city, and Detroit Cristo Rey High School, a Catholic school.

For any school that strives to ensure that students get a college degree and are prepared for a career, “what we find is that getting kids into college isn’t enough,” Johnson said. “Right now, kids get into college and they don’t necessarily graduate.”

Connecting students to resources

When the school first opened, it faced the daunting reality of a city where many of the students entered high school far behind academically. That’s still an issue. Staff at the school work to catch students up, but there’s the realization that when they graduate and go to college, the students will have to work extra hard to stay on track.

The average SAT score for students last school year was 824, below the statewide average of 985. Few students at the school had scores that met the SAT’s standard for college readiness.

At the same time, the school’s most recent graduation rate was 92 percent for the Class of 2018. And about three quarters of the 87 students who graduated in the spring went on to some type of postsecondary education or the military.

Melissa Hamann, the president and CEO of Promise Schools, said that over the years, the college team has dedicated more of its resources to working with alumni. A key part of this effort has been surveying graduates who were unsuccessful in college “to unpack their high school and college journey to figure out what we and our college partners could be doing better.”

Academic preparation was an obvious issue, Hamann said. But so were issues such as time management and study skills.

“One of the things that has become apparent to us is colleges are admitting our students, but not all of them are really providing them supports for where they are academically once they’re on college campuses.”

So one thing Grow and her colleagues do is try to connect Jalen Rose students to resources at their colleges.

On a June morning, several dozen seniors from the Jalen Rose school hopped on a school bus and quietly rode the 11 miles to Henry Ford College, a community college in nearby Dearborn. This trip was the beginning of their college education.

The college team at the high school had arranged this visit to give the students an opportunity to do everything they needed before the fall semester began. They registered, took placement exams, signed up for classes with the help of advisors and sat through an orientation. One student, a burgeoning musician, got a private tour of the school’s recording studios.

school counselor collegeKat Grow and Kashia Perkins catch up at Michigan State University. Credit: Lori Higgins

Part of what the college team does at Jalen Rose is connect students with people who can help their alumni succeed in college — people like Kalvin Harvell.

Harvell, a professor of sociology and coordinator of the Black Male and QUEENS Focus Group, a support network at the college, spoke to the visiting Jalen Rose students that day. He gave them frank advice about college, telling them at one point they need to treat their education as seriously as they do their “courting rituals.” He also told them to ignore naysayers who scoff at those who want to pursue an education, saying “we have to deconstruct these nonsense ideologies” about education.

Harvell, a Flint native who himself is a first-generation student, said that too often, the message some students get about education is negative. He had a different experience. In high school, he dreamed of becoming a “big-time rap star.” But his parents had different ideas. And they forced him to go to college.

“Some students don’t have that person that sees the potential in them… because with some of the parents, no one ever saw the potential in them.”

Colleges, he said, need to nurture students and provide the kind of services that will help them be successful. That’s why he’s taken such a strong interest in mentoring students at the community college.

“I can’t replicate my mom. She’s much smarter than me. But I want to replicate what she has done and push these young people in meaningful ways.”

On the road again

Travel is a big part of Grow’s job. In October alone, she made visits to 11 colleges in the state. She’s on the road up to three days out of the work week, and will even travel outside of Michigan if necessary.

But this year, as the number of alumni kept growing, Grow had to be more strategic about providing assistance, prioritizing students who are college freshmen and older students who are struggling.

This spring, the first group of Jalen Rose grads began graduating from college. Grow said she keeps an open-door policy with those who’ve dropped out of college, too, always willing to help if they need it.

Grow hopes the students see her  as not an employee of their former school but as  a relative coming to see them, because the school prides itself on being a family.

The school’s graduation ceremony in June — the end of one chapter and the beginning of another — had all the markings of family gathering. Teachers who had advised the seniors throughout their time at Jalen Rose gave emotional, and at times, tearful speeches before introducing them and awarding their degrees.

“You, my baby girls, are bright and capable,” teacher Pam Mandigo told her all-girl advisory. “You are strong. And you are worthy. And you, my baby girls, are on a journey to greatness.”

The post The High School That Follows Its Students to College appeared first on Reasons to be Cheerful.

Melanie Philips Criticised by Board of Deputies for Islamophobia Article in Jewish Chronicle

Oh the irony! Melanie ‘Mad Mel’ Phillips, Daily Mail hack, author, and determined opponent of anti-Semitism and Islamism, has been slapped down for an article she wrote in the Jewish Chronicle denying Islamophobia. According to her highly informed opinion (sarcasm), islamophobia is simply a made-up term used to close down criticism of the Islamic world, including Islamic extremism.

According to Zelo Street, without any trace of irony or self-awareness,  Phillips started the piece off by conflating anti-Semitism with anti-Zionism. Anti-Zionism, she declared, was merely the latest mutation of anti-Semitism. The two, according to her, share ‘the same deranged, obsessive falsehoods, demonic conspiracy theory and double standards. It is furthermore an attack on Judaism itself, in which the land of Israel is an inseparable element.’ This is twaddle. Zelo Street points out that Zionism and Judaism certainly aren’t the same, because how else can you explain Christian Zionism? It’s a good question, especially as Christian and non-Jewish Zionism often stemmed from anti-Semitism. Many genuine anti-Semites and Fascists supported the foundation of a Jewish state as a way of clearing Jews out from their own countries. This attitude was so strong that, when one German aristocrat was approached by the Zionists c. 1920 and asked why he didn’t support the creation, he replied that he did, but didn’t want to make it public in case people thought he was an anti-Semite. The Nazis and other European Fascists considering setting up a Jewish homeland in Madagascar, and the were similar schemes among British Fascists for Uganda. This was succeeded by the infamous and short-lived Ha’avara Agreement between the Zionists and the Nazis, in which the Nazis smuggled Jewish settlers in Palestine, then under the British Mandate. But mentioning this, according to the Israel lobby in this country, means that you’re an anti-Semite. Look what happened to Mike when he did in his long piece defending Ken Livingstone, The Livingstone Delusion.

The identity of Zionism and Judaism is also highly dubious. Ultra-Orthodox Jews, such as the Haredi and True Torah Jews, passionately reject the state of Israel for religious reasons. They believe that Israel can only be founded by direct divine action through the Messiah. Modern Israel was founded by secular atheists, and so to them is an abomination. Before the Second World War, most Jews throughout the world, whether in America or Europe or wherever, simply wanted to be equal citizens of the countries, where they had lived for centuries, if not millennia. They regarded these as their real homelands.

As for the accusation that anti-Zionism is based on conspiracy theories, well, there is a mass of very strong evidence showing that the attacks on anti-Zionists and critics of Israel as anti-Semites are very much instigated and supported by the Israeli state through its Office of Strategic Affairs. And recognising that is very different from believing idiotic, murderous myths about the Jews controlling capitalism and trying to destroy the White race.

Philips then went on to declare that ‘Islamophobia’ was invented by the Muslim Brotherhood to mimic antisemitism’. Er, no. Zelo Street states that the term was invented before 1923, citing the article in Wikipedia, which suggests that the term was first used in a 1918 biography of the Prophet Mohammed by the painter Alphonse Etienne Dinet and the Algerian intellectual Sliman ben Ibrahim. The Muslim Brotherhood wasn’t founded until 1928. Philips then went on to claim that  “‘Islamophobia’ appropriates to itself the unique attribute of antisemitism – that it is deranged – in order falsely to label any adverse comment about the Islamic world as a form of mental disorder”. Zelo Street succinctly demolishes this absurd claim by stating that the term is simply used to describe anti-Muslim bigotry. Which is correct. I haven’t heard of anyone seriously suggesting that anti-Muslim prejudice is a form of mental illness, or demanding that those who allegedly suffer from it should somehow need psychiatric treatment to cure them. Philips then continued “The concept of ‘Islamophobia’ is thus profoundly anti-Jew. Islamophobia’ is not equivalent to antisemitism. It facilitates it”.

The Board of Deputies found these sentiments to be unpalatable, and issued the following statement in professed solidarity with Muslims and others suffering racism. the Jewish Chronicle’s “fearless journalism has been at the forefront of tackling antisemitism & its denial. The publication of this piece was an error. Anti-Muslim prejudice is very real & it is on the rise. Our community must stand as allies to all facing racism”.

The Muslim Council of Britain also wasn’t impressed. Zelo Street quote a tweet by Miqdad Versi, describing how the Jewish Chronicle has a lot of previous in stirring up anti-Muslim sentiment, especially with articles by Philips. Versi said

“We should not be surprised by the Jewish Chroncile – it’s not the first time. When many Muslims were reeling after the massacre in Christchurch, they published a similar hate-filled piece by Melanie Phillips.They lied about the [MCB] & had to correct their lie … They lied about a Muslim charity, falsely linking it to terrorism, necessitating an apology and paying libel damages … When Baroness Warsi speaks up against Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, its editor tries to slur her … In one of a *number of articles* intending to undermine the definition of Islamophobia, it made false claims of links to extremism, about Professor Salman Sayyid, which it had to retract … This latest article is not a one-off but part of a pattern of behaviour – an editorial line on Muslim-related issues as the thread shows”. 

Zelo Street concludes that at least the Board of Deputies has called the Jewish Chronicle out on this one. It’s just a pity that it won’t have any effect on either Philips or the editor, Stephen Pollard.


I also find the Board’s statement somewhat hypocritical.

David Rosenberg of the Jewish Socialist Group stated in one of his articles that when he was growing up in the 1980s, the Board of Deputies did not want Jews such as himself attending any of the anti-racism marches or protests by organisations like Rock Against Racism. The ostensible reason was that they were trying to stop Jewish youth from hearing anti-Zionist propaganda. But others on the Left thought the real reason was simple racism on their part. Whatever the reason, some of the meetings held by Jewish anti-racists had to be held in non-Jewish venues, like Quaker meeting houses and church halls, because the Board forbade synagogues to allow them to meet there.

The Board of Deputies is a Zionist organisation. It’s in their constitution. And as such, it has absolutely no qualms accommodating real Islamophobes. Let’s take their mass demonstrations with the Chief Rabbi and the Jewish Labour Movement against Jeremy Corbyn last year or so. The former Chief Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, has led a group of British Jews to participate in the annual March of the Flags in Jerusalem. This is when Israeli super-patriotic bovverboys parade through the city’s Muslim quarter waving the country’s flag, vandalising Arab property and terrorising the neighbourhood’s people. Liberal Jewish organisations asked Sacks not to go. But he went anyway. As far as I am aware, there was not a peep of criticism from the Board, and they were happy to join the attacks on Corbyn by Sacks and his successor, Ephraim Mirvis, who may also have participated in the March. I also remember that among the protesters was one young man wearing a Kach T-shirt. Kach are an Israeli far-right organisation, which was banned under their terrorism laws. I am similarly aware of no criticism of this man by the Board.

In my experience, the issue of the Palestinians looms very large amongst this country’s Muslims. I studied Islam at College in the 1980s and early ’90s. I once came across the equivalent of a Christian parish magazine put out by one of the mosques. Among its articles was coverage of the closure of a mosque and a nearby church by the Israeli authorities. The Israeli state has a policy of closing down unauthorised non-Jewish places of worship as part of the general pressure and discrimination against the Palestinians. And certain sections of the Muslim community in this country were very aware of it. My guess is that the mosque that published the article wasn’t alone in its concern for its coreligionists in the Holy Land, and that this attitude is general and persists to the present day. That does not mean that they all hate Jews or want to see Israel destroyed and its people massacred. It does mean, though, that they want the religious and ethnic persecution of the Palestinians stopped. But the Board of Deputies flings around accusations of anti-Semitism in order to stop criticism of Israel for its actions against the Palestinians.

If the Board of Deputies is really serious about standing in solidarity with Muslims against racism, then one excellent place would be to start protesting against the treatment of Muslims – and by extension Christians – in Israel.

Until that happens, the Board is just being hypocritical.

Cyberwoman Lies About Anti-Semitism Smears in the Metro

The late, great Bill Hicks once said, ‘We live in a world where the good die young, while mediocrities thrive and prosper’. And on Tuesday, two days ago, one of the more noxious of those mediocrities, Tracy Ann Oberman, appeared in the ‘Sixty Seconds’ interview column in the Metro. That’s the free newspaper given away to passengers on buses. The former Dr Who cyberwoman was talking about her latest role as the heroine, Brenda, in the crime drama Mother of Him, the mother of a son, who has committed a terrible crime. Inevitably, the questions then moved on to the abuse she had received for her campaign against anti-Semitism. This ran

You’re no stranger to facing a barrage of abuse online since speaking out against Labour’s alleged anti-Semitism problem. Did that feed into the play?

My speaking out on anti-Semitism and misogyny, in particular in my old party, Labour, and the trolling I received didn’t really feed in because the character of Brenda is not an actor or celebrity and didn’t put herself out there. It made me think that social media has a positive side, which is to give people a chance to put out their story when they otherwise would have been unable to.

Why has anti-Semitism reared its head now?

All racism and misogyny is there somewhere beneath the surface but up until the past few years it was kept to people mumbling in pubs and private areas as it wasn’t deemed acceptable to say in public. I think there’s been a big change since 2017. The left should be better, as should the right- but that is not my affiliation so someone else needs to police them. You can deny you have a problem with it as much as you like but it’s here and it’s thriving.

Your experience with trolling on social media fed into your podcast, Trolled. Have people responded positively to it?

I’ve had such incredible feedback. I get handwritten letters and cards and tweets from people who enjoyed it. I think people have found it very empowering and cathartic to be able to talk about it. Everybody I had on my podcast was championing a different cause and every single one of us had exactly the same sort of trolls. So it is less to with the issue and more to do with the type of person who wants to abuse someone they disagree with.

This is the most self-promoting, hypocritical balderdash. 

The anti-Semitism Oberman and the other witch-hunters are so keen to root out isn’t anti-Semitism per se, but rather criticism – including very justified criticism – of Israel. That’s why Oberman and the rest of the witch-hunters have been attacking Corbyn and his supporters. They do criticise Israel and its slow-motion ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. And Oberman, the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism, the Jewish Labour Movement and the rest of the wretched lot can be very justly accused of anti-Semitism themselves. Very many of their victims have been Jews, like Jackie Walker and Tony Greenstein, to name only two. As a result, these decent people have suffered the most appalling trolling and abuse. Walker has been told that she can’t be Jewish, ’cause she’s Black, obviously by White racists ignorant of the indigenous Black Jewish people of Africa and Afro-Jewish people in the Diaspora. They’ve demanded that she be lynched – not a joke to someone, whose mother’s people in America really suffered that atrocity – and her body dumped in bin bags, or set on fire. Tony Greenstein has been physically attacked, and told by right Zionists that they wish his family had died in the Holocaust. And any Jew, who criticises Israel, will be called that their a ‘traitor’. As they point out, you can’t be a traitor to a country you weren’t born in, or have never visited. But Netanyahu, contrary to the I.H.R.A. definition of anti-Semitism, which says that Jews cannot be accused of being more sympathetic or loyal to a foreign power, has declared all Jews, everywhere, to be citizens of Israel, and automatically expects their immediate, unconditional loyalty. Needless to say, he’s being sadly disappointed, as increasingly more Jews are giving him the two-fingered salute and ignoring Israel completely or showing solidarity with the Palestinians. To be a Jew, as one pro-Palestinian Jewish American has said, ‘is always to side with the oppressed, never the oppressors’.

The witch-hunters targets also include decent, anti-racist gentiles, like Ken Livingstone and Mike. They went after Leninspart because he dared to cite respected history, that Hitler did initially support Zionism. Tony Greenstein and Prof. Newsinger over at Lobster, and many others, including Mike, have cited chapter and verse of respected histories showing that this is absolutely right. But as Greenstein has shown, Israel has repeatedly tried to suppress any mention of its collaboration with Nazi Germany, including the collusion of Zionist activists, like Kasztner in Hungary, with the Nazis in the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Jews to Auschwitz.

Many of the people smeared as anti-Semites by people like Oberman are anything but.

Quite often, they, Jews and gentiles, have been active against racism, like the Black anti-racism campaigner, Mark Wadsworth. Mike and I were brought up with an awareness of the horrors of the Shoah, and Mike at College was invited to be one of the speakers at a commemoration of those murdered in it by one of his Jewish friends. They have often themselves been the subject of racist or anti-Semitic abuse and attack.

And as for trolling, Oberman, her friend Rachel Riley, and the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism have done more than their fair share of this against decent people like Mike, Jackie and Tony. Riley herself has connections, it seems, to David Collier’s Gnasherjew troll army.

And Oberman has no business lecturing anyone on free speech.

She and her bestie, Rachel Riley, are suing 16 people, including Mike, for libel because they reblogged material showing how they bullied a 16 year old girl with anxiety issues after calling her an anti-Semite. Why? She dared to support Jeremy Corbyn, and didn’t want to have anything to do with them when they wanted her take time out from school to meet them to be ‘re-educated’. Riley is suing Mike, despite not being able to answer his question about what was libelous in the material he reblogged.

At the moment, they’re trying to wear down Mike’s defence by raising technical legal issues in the hope, it seems, of using up Mike’s money so that he won’t be able to afford to defend himself. Mike is still appealing for contributions to his defence fund, and is very grateful for the generous support he’s received from people really concerned with justice and free speech. See:

Court confrontation over Riley libel case is postponed

Fortunately, every time Riley and Oberman open their mouths, support for Mike and the other victims of their lies, smears and trolling goes up.

Don’t believe the lies of Oberman and Riley. Support free speech, and the people really tackling racism and anti-Semitism: their victims.