Rooftop Revelations: Ronald Reagan’s favorite Chicago School continues to thrive despite the odds

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Rooftop Revelations: Ronald Reagan’s favorite Chicago School continues to thrive despite the odds

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While education standards in most K-12 schools across America have fallen gradually for several decades, the pace accelerated in recent years due to racial equity initiatives. The stated goal of these initiatives can often be summed up as the elimination of racial disparities between races, especially between blacks and whites. However, this goal is far from noble, and the immorality in this quest to achieve racial equity lies in the belief that lowering standards for blacks is the way forward. But how can stigmatizing blacks as inferiors inspire them to reach great heights?

There is a school on the West Side of Chicago in the middle of the violence and poverty that wholeheartedly rejects this lowly view of blacks. Since 1969, Providence St. Mel School has pursued academic rigor and, in 2019, the school sent the entire senior class to colleges on academic scholarships. On the 73rd day of his 100-day rooftop vigil to build a community center designed to provide opportunities, Pastor Corey Brooks invited Tim Ervin, principal of Providence St. Mel, to the freezing roof for a chat by the campfire. 

“Can you just tell us about Providence St. Mel?” the pastor began.

“Providence St. Mel is a private independent school on the West Side of Chicago — used to be a Catholic school,” Ervin said. “In 1978, the archdiocese was going to close the school because of low enrollment, but the principal at the time, Mr. Paul J. Adams III, said he was going to keep it open, and he kept it open. He’s kept it open now for 44 years as a private independent school.”

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When Adams was named principal in 1972, he enacted strict rules that made gang association, drugs, gambling, graffiti, stealing and fighting grounds for expulsion. This zero tolerance policy cleared the way for academics to be the sole focus for all students. 

“We do not lower standards,” Ervin continued. “Many of our students also receive college scholarship dollars, and many of our students are accepted to the top 50 colleges in the country.”

“One of your biggest early supporters early on was President Ronald Reagan. Can you tell us about that a little bit?” the pastor asked.

“President Reagan visited the school in the early ’80s, 1982, I believe. Because he heard about the success of the school, he wanted to come and visit,” Ervin said. 

President Ronald Reagan was so impressed he returned for a second visit in 1983 where he was pleased that 44% of the recent graduates wanted to pursue a science-related career. 

Of the school, Reagan was later quoted saying: “Poet Tennyson said, ‘I dipt into the future, as far as the human eye could see, Saw a Vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be.’ Well, Providence St. Mel has looked into the future and seen what a wonder it is … So, let us pray that Providence-St. Mel will be a shining example to schools all across this country. The future isn’t something to fear, and today’s problems can be tomorrow’s victories, and that working together, there isn’t anything that we can’t do.”

Reagan would have been pleased to learn that the school has not backed off its mission to this day. 

“Another thing that I don’t want to gloss over: 100% of y’all students get scholarships or go to college,” the pastor said. 

“100% of our students do get accepted into four-year colleges and university. Matter of fact, the class of 2019, which is the class your son was in—each one of those seniors earned at least one college scholarship to go to college,” Ervin said. “We really pride ourselves on not just getting our students accepted into college, but finding scholarship dollars for all of our students, not just the top students, but also the C student. We’ve had students who graduated from Providence St. Mel with a 2.2 GPA and get a full-tuition scholarship to a four-year university, where they can finish college without any student debt. I tell people all the time a college education is valuable, but a free one is priceless.”

“I don’t want any people to think, oh, a 2.2 or 2.4 [GPA],” the pastor added. “When you compare Providence St. Mel to other schools in Chicago, especially public schools, there is a drastic difference in the quality of the students. The standards are high. The dress code is implemented. But you all even make sure that parents are involved.”

“We meet with our parents at least once a quarter. And whenever students having an issue, we make sure we call home, because it’s a partnership,” Ervin said. “We let them know what’s going on about the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to their student.”

“Tell people about where this school is located,” the pastor said. “I want them to understand where this school is thriving.”

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“Providence St. Mel is located on the West Side of Chicago in East Garfield Park, one of the toughest neighborhoods in the city. Murder and crime rate is very high. Violence is definitely prevalent in the neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods,” Ervin answered. “Our students, when they get to Providence St. Mel, they know they’re safe because the school looks like a castle on the outside and it feels like a castle on the inside … And we make sure that we don’t have any foolishness going on inside the school, and our students are safe from the time they walk in that building until they get in their car with their parents or if they have to walk to the bus stop.”

“For over 40 years, y’all been doing a great job, making sure that students go to college, making sure that students meet the standards,” the pastor said. “You’re not lowering any standards just to give students a quick fix, but you all keep the discipline intact, the parents involved.”

The tragedy of it all is that today’s racial equity educators failed to see what Reagan saw: a school model that proved that blacks could succeed no matter what background they came from. Instead, they chose to see blacks as inferiors and America is paying the price for that.

Follow along as Fox News checks in Pastor Corey Brooks each day with a new Rooftop Revelation.

For more information, please visit Project H.O.O.D.

Eli Steele is a documentary filmmaker and writer. His latest film is “What Killed Michael Brown?” Twitter: @Hebro_Steele.

Camera by Terrell Allen.

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