Chapter 8Why Your Social Drives Matter More NowThe Equation

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

—Calvin Coolidge

Union City and Newark, New Jersey, are less than 10 miles apart, along I-95 just across the Hackensack River from each other. High unemployment and chronic poverty exist in both cities. Back in the 1980s, in fact, Union City's school district was at risk of a New Jersey state takeover, given how poorly its schools were performing. Union City is one of those cities with a great manufacturing history; it was once known as the Embroidery Capital of the United States.

Over the past five years, Newark got an incremental infusion of well over $100 million of external philanthropic funds into its public schools, And yet Union City is the school district that has made more gains in student achievement. More than 90 percent of the city's students receive free or reduced lunch and three-fourths speak a language other than English at home. It makes no sense. Why would the two districts perform much differently in the first place, given how similar the conditions are? And if either district were to improve, shouldn't it be the one ...

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