We as a nation (I’m assuming that most of the readers of this blog are in the United States) face a host of very real problems.
The economy is reeling. Unemployment continues to hover around 10%. Millions of children in this country go to bed hungry each night. Millions more struggle to break the cycle of poverty in overcrowded classrooms in underperforming schools.
The problems are numerous and can, at times, feel almost paralyzing. Our brightest minds have tried to tackle them and they’ve almost always failed. So what could we possibly do?
A group of Jesuits found themselves asking the same questions in the early ‘90s about Pilsen, a small, densely populated neighborhood on the Southwest side of Chicago. There were over 10,000 high school aged students there. And only two underperforming high schools.
Virtually all of Pilsen’s residents were Mexican immigrants. A great number of them lived in poverty. Few of the teenagers stayed in school. Some joined gangs. Others joined their parents in factories or on job sites.
The Jesuits saw many problems. And though they didn’t have any solutions, they knew they had to act. They had to try. And they did.
Their remarkable success, Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, has spawned a national educational movement and stands as proof that a small group of persistent and creative folks can indeed address problems and can actually change the world.