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Humanizing the Education Machine by Brian Cahill, Bill Latham, Rex Miller

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Chapter 9Changing the OddsGetting Beyond Zip Code Destiny

It is easier to build strong children than to fix broken men.

—Frederick Douglass

I heard that Kostoryz Elementary School in Corpus Christi, Texas, was a turnaround story that our K–12 MindShift team should see. So I flew down to take a look.

When I exited the freeway the area quickly changed from nice restaurants and retail shops to a new landscape of payday loan shops, ethnic restaurants, laundromats, and appliance and furniture rental centers. Large apartment complexes lined both sides of the street as I got near the school.

Kostoryz Elementary is a two-story windowless building, bleached white with jagged rust stains ringing the roofline. The school was built in the 1960s to support a new and growing middle-class community. But two of the pillars supporting Corpus Christi at the time, the petroleum industry and the military, started leaving about 30 years ago. That's why the school is now surrounded by multifamily homes. Two blocks away, the rows of low-income apartments confirmed the shift in that community.

Soon after arriving at the school, I saw buses unloading kids. Later, I saw a new pattern: cars and vans drove up and dropped off some kids. In fact, many kids arrived after school started. Toward the end of the day, we saw the same pattern in reverse. The principal explained the kids arriving and departing in private vehicles: “These kids come from homes where work comes first and family needs come second. ...

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