It's hard to comprehend anyone thinking that success is a bad thing, but that's the mindset of some high school students -- especially some African-American male students.
They don't want to look nerdy, or they worry they won't fit in with their friends. And so they either hide their good grades, or worse, don't work at learning.
That mindset is no doubt part of the reason for the achievement gap between white and black students. The accompanying chart shows the gaping spread at Belleville East and West on reading -- the basis for all learning. The numbers are shocking, and heartbreaking.
For our children's and our nation's success, we have to find ways to raise the achievement of all students, especially black students. Belleville High School District 201 is trying to do that with various programs, including lessons in reading. Lack of reading skills limits success in all other subjects, including math.
One idea holds particular promise: A peer mentoring program, featured on the front page today.
It's in its first year, so it's too soon to judge, but three factors are particularly encouraging: Students, not adults, generated this idea. Many successful upper classmen have volunteered to be mentors. Many freshmen have said they want this extra help.
Maybe one of the best measures of success is that some students who aren't African-American males are asking why they, too, can't have a program like this. Maybe they will if this proves as successful as everyone hopes it will be.
We commend Belleville school leaders for looking for new ways to reach underachieving students. It's not too soon for other metro-east school districts to take a look at this program and consider whether their students also would benefit from such an opportunity.