Temple says no, but a city high school grad keeps trying.
Peak Johnson admits he's not good at math. Words are his passion. But at Germantown's Delaware Valley Charter High School, his mathematical performance showed promise.
His freshman year, he got an A in the basics. By his senior year he'd eked out a string of Cs in algebra, geometry and algebra 2, but Cs wouldn't be good enough.
"It didn't really hit me until the 12th grade," says Johnson, who graduated in June. "I realized I needed to know this stuff if I'm going to college."
So did his frustrated math teacher, who told the class early in their senior year: "Y'all should know this," Johnson remembers. The teacher tried to cram years of equations, polynominals and factorization into one semester.
The effort was lost on Johnson.
When he applied to his neighborhood college, Temple University, he wasn't accepted. He thinks it was because his high school left him unprepared.
"Things that were supposed to be taught to get us ready for college were not taught to us," he says. "My school did not have strong math teachers. They never really got us ready for college."
He's not alone in having his college plans derailed.
According to schoolmatters.com, 58 percent of the school's 2005 seniors planned to attend college. Only 33 percent went--13 percent to a four-year institution.
In July of that year Johnson's school answered the call for reform with a change in leadership.
"Our new leadership team is committed to increasing student performance, enhancing staff morale, and providing a safe and secure learning environment ... " the website reads.
The school also developed a plan to create partnerships with the surrounding community and businesses.
"We are excited about the 2007-2008 school year," the website continues. "Under our new leadership team, our students will experience a brand-new curriculum, taught by teachers who enjoy coming to work every day. We expect not only an increase in our test scores, but also an increase in our social and emotional skills."
In 2007 only 16 percent of the school's 11th-graders were proficient in math.
Johnson, 18, is the former editor in chief of the North Philadelphia Metropolis, a spunky student-led newspaper run out of Project HOME's Honickman Learning Center, which he calls his second home.
Although he graduated from high school in June, Johnson still volunteers at the paper, under a position he created--editor emeritus.
The staff uses the words "bright" and "leader" to describe him.
Johnson has been spending most of his days working on the next issue, the paper's 12th, which will focus on race and culture. In the afternoons he works as a teaching assistant in the center's after-school program, in which he was once a student.
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