The complication looming behind The Cove begs an inconvenient question: Just how much is a local child’s education worth? And in the case of this yet-to-open nonprofit based in an abandoned doctor’s office on Washington Avenue, what if the child qualifies as homeless?
In Waco, a resolute city involved in an unprecedented struggle against the poverty that has long defined us, the question is gravely relevant: Waco Independent School District officials tell us that they educate more than a thousand homeless students a year, many “surfing” from one living room couch to the next courtesy of friends, relatives and acquaintances.
Think school is tough? Try focusing on the complexities of mathematics, science and tough state-mandated tests when you’re not sure where your evening meal is coming from or where you’re going to bunk come nightfall. If some of us can’t imagine all this, it’s certainly because of our own good blessings.
As Trib education writer Shelly Conlon explained in Tuesday’s edition, The Cove — a teen-nurturing center that seeks to address dire social and educational needs of homeless Waco students when they’re not crashing on somebody’s couch or learning in school — is on the brink of opening but for startup funds. It needs $100,000 to open in time for the school year, and it’s 75 percent of the way to its goal.
Local educators tout the nonprofit’s high aims and absolute necessity for a classification of student often overlooked. The idea is that The Cove will provide homeless students evening meals, a place to shower and do laundry, access to medical care and a sanctuary from 4 to 8 p.m. where they can do homework and get tutoring. In crisis situations, it can find places where students can sleep, though most homeless students reportedly have lodgings of some sort, however transitory. Waco ISD will refer willing students.
“A lot of them just want to graduate,” Superintendent Bonny Cain assured us of these homeless students. “One of our best success stories at the Greater Waco Advanced Manufacturing Academy was a kid who was at Brazos High and, well, we said we don’t take kids in that program from Brazos High. But this kid convinced us. He said, ‘If you will let me go to GWAMA and Brazos High, I will graduate.’ And this kid lived under a bridge and he’s a high school kid and he went on a skateboard every day from Brazos High to GWAMA and back so he could finish his education and have a way to support himself. And he did this all by himself.”
Any new program to help must ultimately be judged by unforgiving metrics to determine long-term usefulness. However, we invite friends and neighbors to consider support for this unique hand up, especially during the crucial startup period. To donate, visit www.thecovewaco.org or mail a check to P.O. Box 1956, Waco, TX 76703.