In my podcast interview yesterday with Kelby Woodard of Dallas Cristo Rey High School, we hinted at the capital problem which the Cristo Rey schools solve. Capital in the sense that it takes capital investment to run this type of school. Donors must provide money for the school which doesn’t really generate much money from tuition. And business partners must provide capital investment to employ the students as employees.
But why? The reason the Cristo Rey is successful is that it provides the social capital so needed by its students. As Daniel Willingham explores in his book Why Students Don’t Like School (which I will blog about tomorrow in my Wednesday Book Blog) and J.D. Vance points out in Hillbilly Elegy (which I blog about here), poverty usually doesn’t provide the mentors and wherewithal for students to succeed. Cristo Rey teaches agency (power to control your environment), assertiveness, perseverance, and all the other soft skills needed to provide poor students the tools to succeed in life.
Poor students, by virtue of where they live, are subjected to many under-resourced schools. Not under-resourced in terms of funding. But under-resourced in providing the mentorship, individual attention, and lessons they need to break the cycle of poverty. Cristo Rey provides a proven pathway to success.
Capital investment provides this framework of social capital which has proven to be an innovative and successful school model. Give the podcast a lesson to learn about this model. Here is the link again.