E.V. ‘Dreamers,’ Jennings show roads to success need to be many, varied - East Valley Tribune: Opinion

E.V. ‘Dreamers,’ Jennings show roads to success need to be many, varied

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Posted: Monday, August 8, 2005 7:39 pm | Updated: 7:40 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Monday's front-page story on the East Valley's “Ivy League Dreamers” is a welcome reminder that there is much right about today's younger generation. We can too easily lose sight of that amid the rest of the daily news — much of which isn't very reassuring.

The “Dreamers” story recognized some of the many local students who are extraordinarily high achievers — in this case setting their sights on the nation's top institutions of higher education. For that they are to be heartily congratulated, and may their stellar example inspire other young people.

Let's also be reminded that there are many paths to success. These students have chosen the traditional and most easily recognized path — but no less difficult path than others. But other paths exist, and it's important in today's world of expanding educational choices to understand and appreciate that, as well.

Also recognized on Monday, because of his untimely death Sunday at 67, was another high achiever — but one who took one of those different paths: ABC News anchorman Peter Jennings.

Jennings was known to millions of viewers for his smooth, intelligent delivery, and to his colleagues as a hard-driving, brilliant journalist.

Yet Peter Jennings was also a high school dropout who never made it to college. Now we're not suggesting here that dropping out of school is no big deal — it is — or that Arizona's high dropout rate is not cause for concern — it is. Perhaps Jennings would have been even more proficient and successful if he had completed a traditional education.

The point, rather, is that while we encourage today's youth to do well on the traditional path, we also must encourage those who take different paths. That means continuing to expand Arizona's educational options not only for high achievers but for at-risk students as well.

It means creating more schools and programs that give young people who've dropped out a second chance — perhaps in environments more conducive to their interests, abilities and special needs.

Arizona has made excellent progress in this regard, thanks to our charter-school law and private school scholarship tax credit, as well as improvements in our traditional public schools. We must continue that effort to expand and improve educational options.

Because every child's success is important — regardless of the path they choose.

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