A new book by noted education researcher Samuel Casey Carter studied 3,500 schools nationwide and profiled the 12 Best in the Nation.
Two of the schools are right here in our backyard; both Providence St. Mel and Hinsdale Central were lauded as great examples of schools that emphasized character development and strong academic achievement together for outstanding results.
Hinsdale Central has received many academic achievement awards and is one of the nation's top schools.
Providence St. Mel has its own very compelling story to tell - it was the subject of its own documentary film, "The Providence Effect," which was released last year.
President Reagan raved about the school on a visit in the 1980's and Oprah has given the school a million dollar grant to provide some scholarship aid for many of its African-American students.
What is it about this former Catholic school turned Christian independent school that has gotten everyone's attention? It could be the fact that 100 percent of the school's graduating seniors have been accepted to four-year colleges including top-tier colleges and Ivy League institutions for the past seven years.
How do they do it?
President Paul J. Adams and his staff have focused on developing a strong academic standard while enforcing strict disciplinary codes and insuring their students safety. Mr. Adams also credits more teaching time with the students -- 10 to 12 hour days, six days a week (which can be accomplished in a non-union teacher environment) and lots of positive energy in the school.
We celebrate success, we celebrate learning," said Mr. Adams.
The bottom line is that the teachers and staff at Providence St. Mel create an environment for success. They send out a strong message to those attending their school: if you work hard and follow the rules you have a great chance at success both in school and into the future.
Can't we learn from these basic fundamentals?
We are very proud of Hinsdale Central and Providence St. Mel. Let's take their fundamentals for success and apply them across our school districts statewide.
Illinois deserves better.