Wednesday's ceremony at Anne Darling School in East San Jose, complete with "Pomp and Circumstance," crowned not only a year of kindergarten learning but also marked a promise for the future.
Eight South Bay college presidents and chancellors helped present certificates to the school's 84 kindergarteners with a pledge: When they graduate from high school, they will be guaranteed a spot in local colleges, if they meet admission requirements.
Although the certificate itself isn't guaranteeing much at all (if you meet admission requirements you most certainly will be able to attend college, with or without a note from years past), there is certainly something to be said for the power of high expectations. Letting children know that their teachers and family are expecting them to work diligently toward success and attend college, lets them know that they have the potential to do so. With all of the disparaging statistics and stereotypes of our modern age, children of certain backgrounds are getting the wrong impression-- that they lack the potential to succeed.
In California's class of 2006, only 36 percent had completed requirements for entering the University of California or California State University systems. For Latino students, it was 21 percent; for African-Americans it was 20 percent.
While teachers and parents have little control over the negative images and influences portrayed in the media and prevalent in society, we can and must counter these with the power of our words and expectations. Setting big goals early on and supporting students in achieving those goals is the best way we can motivate and empower our kids. All children have unlimited potential and we need to always remind them of that.