Two students write about their futures

Jay Matthews

I have two guest columnists today, Patricia and Luis. Their teacher, Michael L. Conners, introduced me to their work. They cannot use their last names here because both are in the United States illegally.
Conners was an English as a Second Language teacher at the Columbia Heights Education Center in the District, a public secondary school previously known as Bell Multicultural High School, when he taught these students. In 2008, his class submitted essays to NPR’s “This I Believe” radio program. None were selected for broadcast, but Conners thought they represented good examples of student writing and sent them to me.
Both of these essays were influenced by the students’ research into the laws that restrict their access to college financial aid. Both are entering their senior year, and college is on their minds.
I thought this would be an opportunity to show the level of writing for students at an urban high school whose Advanced Placement English program I have often praised. I don’t take sides on the issue they raise, but I am interested in how well they raise it. Conners will be teaching at the E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in the District this year. He can be reached at