Niagara Gazette

Opinion

February 14, 2013

HAMILTON: A reason to succeed, despite the circumstances

Niagara Gazette — Two American high school students have done something extraordinary. One of them have just scored a perfect Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score and the other has just won $75,000 on Alex Trebek’s Teen Jeopardy show. The two students have a lot in common with many other students across America, in that their successes are rooted in their ambitions, their parental support and in a school system that has dedicated itself to their success. But there are a couple of other things that make these two students, by birth, stand out: both of them are African-American males who did not use the color of their skins as an excuse to fail. In fact, they used it as a reason to succeed.

Though they are African-Americans, they are much, much more: they are Americans — period. And while Cameron Clarke, who attends the prestigious Germantown Academy of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was one of only 360 of the roughly 15-million high school students in America to attain a perfect score, it is possible for any of our local Niagara Falls High School students of any color to do likewise, if they had the support he had. If Clarke’s parents had to pay for his 13-year education in one payment of today’s dollars, then their bill would be a seemingly whopping $320,000. You may say that, “Well, I can see how he made it. I could never pay that much for my child.”

Leonard Cooper, of the Little Rock, Arkansas’s eSTEM Public Charter School comes from a school district that spends an average of about $155,000 per student for those same 13-years; years that produced a Jeopardy-winner. While it is $165,000 less than Clarke’s Germantown Academy, it is also $82,000 less than what we spend per student in Niagara Falls. In fact, the average $237,000 that we spend per student for a 13-year education here is within $500 of the average cost of both of these boys’ education.

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