ESPN, the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles hosted The Monday Night Football Chalk Talk Series luncheon in advance of the Philadelphia Eagles–Chicago Bears game Nov. 7 at the Lincoln Financial Field.
The Chalk Talk honored two Philadelphia student-athletes, Monique Bowman from Jules Mastbaum High School and Martin Hicks from Arise Academy Charter High School, for the ESPN High School RISE ABOVE Award. These student-athletes have overcome challenges, and found the time to excel academically and help others in their community.
Bowman is a student-athlete playing both soccer and volleyball. She carries a 3.5 GPA, is involved in student government and works 30 hours a week at K-Mart helping to support her one-year-old son and younger siblings. Bowman says receiving this award makes her feel special.
“Today, I feel like I’m famous. It makes you feel better about yourself when you get recognized for doing something that you never thought someone would recognize you for and just achieving your goals,” Bowman said.
Although Bowman was unsure if she would play sports after having her child, she says playing sports helps her emotionally to live a balanced life.
“At first when I had my son, I’m like, ‘No, I can’t go back. I don’t want to play anymore,’ but then I just realized that, that’s what I wanted to do, play sports.”
Bowman does have future plans to attend college at West Chester University and law school.
Hicks plays football and basketball as a part of a co-op program between Arise Academy and Ben Franklin High School. Growing up was extremely difficult for Hicks. With mental health issues and drug abuse, both his parents were unable to take care of him; leaving Hicks in the foster care system. After living in five different homes and attending multiple high schools, Hicks and his sisters were able to settle in a stable environment with their grandmother.
As starting linebacker and captain of his basketball team, Hicks says he is not used to all the attention he received, but he says it feels good.
“It makes me feel like it’s worth it and to just keep working hard,” Hicks said.
He has an uncle and two cousins who serve in the Navy and he plans to enlist after high school.
During their experiences at the Lincoln Financial Field, Bowman, Hicks and their friends and family took a behind-the-scenes tour and talked with ESPN executives about career opportunities in sports. Students learned about marketing, advertising, networking, internships and planning of events. Additionally, the group learned about the pre-production of Monday Night Football games.
Alumni players from the Eagles and Bears were in attendance. Jevon Kearse, Jeremiah Trotter, Brian Westbrook and Curtis Conway discussed their experiences playing in the NFL and other football topics.
In its fifth year, The Monday Night Football Chalk Talk Series began as a tradition in the 1970s. The tradition was that the on-air personalities in town covering the Monday Night Football game would share their insider analysis and experience with guests of the community. ESPN and the NFL revamped the Chalk Talk Series in 2007 to showcase the host cities participating in the weekly Monday night games. Additionally, student-athletes like Bowman and Hicks are honored for their achievements in school and off the field.
Arise Academy, HOPE Charter and Truebright Science Academy are now on the clock.
In a meeting late last week, the School Reform Commission took no action on the district’s recommendation to not renew their charters, meaning these schools only have one full academic year to change the minds of officials in the SRC and Office of Charter Schools.
“The vote speaks for itself in regard to the performance of the schools, and the vote represents the SRC’s continued commitment to support high quality schools and programs, and close programs that are low performing,” said school district spokesman Fernando Gallard. “This is being done across all public schools, and that is the message the SRC sent with this vote.”
The SRC’s decision means these schools will remain open until their current charter runs out at the end of the 2012–2013 academic year. Charters are renewable every five years.
School district officials have repeatedly promised to close schools that were either low performing, had ongoing precipitous drops in enrollment or operated in dangerous and obsolete buildings — and it has delivered on that promise by closing eight public schools at the end of this school year. But few could have predicted charter schools would be among the sacked schools, especially when it wasn’t previously announced that charter schools were under consideration for closure.
“The SRC’s decision underlined the need to do this on a very fast track, and [the board] felt that they couldn’t wait and do this slowly and piecemeal,” Gallard said. “So that is why [the SRC] has taken this step, and this is the first time it has done this in many years — to not renew these three charter schools.”
Truebright CEO Dr. Bekir Duz believes that not only is Truebright a success, it will prove over the next academic year that it can continue to meet and exceed standards.
“This was only the first meeting; it was procedural and [the SRC’s decision] does not close the school,” Duz said, noting that the SRC plans to hold another meeting in June to further discuss the schools’ fate. “This is the first step in the process, and it really gives Truebright an opportunity to present evidence to the school district.
“The school will operate in 2012 and is accepting applications.”
Duz may have a chance. A statement from the school district read in part, that the “SRC will be postponing a vote on the recommendations for charter school renewals in order to best plan a process that takes into consideration the financial and legal conditions that may affect future decisions around growth and cost of charter schools.”
Duz believes if the SRC had the proper data to begin with, Truebright wouldn’t even be considered for non-renewal.
“We have a very strong case. We have been operating for five full years, and Truebright has established a strong financial record, and the SRC has recognized that,” Duz said. “We have stable governing and leadership, and we will prove it to them."
That these charter schools have to go through such lengths alone is a travesty, especially when considering the type of work charters do, said Dr. Walter D. Palmer, a career educator and founder of the Walter D. Palmer Leadership Learning Partners Charter School.
“You’ve got a number of charter schools out there doing special types of work. The one thing not taken into consideration is that these particular schools are working with the most problematic students in the entire state of Pennsylvania,” Palmer said. “They have lost their education to the state, and [these charters] are being asked to get these kids back on track in a very short period of time.
“Very few charter schools make progress in the first several years; they need to be given an opportunity, because you can’t turn around these kids in one or two semesters or in two to three years.”
Palmer believes that charter schools like his and others take students with behavioral or mental health issues who often hail from depressed and crime-ridden neighborhoods. In taking on such students, these schools should be cut some slack.
“We need these schools, because they are doing what these other schools don’t want to do,” Palmer said, pinning the blame squarely on the SRC, and an educational system based more on a colonial-style of testing, grading and teaching. “You have to give them more than three years to turn it around.
“How can you reverse 50 years of bad educational management [by the school district] and expect these schools to turn around in three years?”