Brandon Power’s winning Black History Month essay

The main purpose of a formal education is sort of a preparation for the world we are going to be living and working in. The purpose of public school is to not only teach students the skills they need to survive in the workplace, but to also provide a social environment that teaches students how to interact with the different kinds of people around them. This includes not only teachers, but different kinds of students as well, and the more variety that kids are exposed to, the more people they will be able to understand and cooperate with. Unfortunately, the variety of students attending a particular high school is sometimes limited by geography, and some areas, such as the county, may be relatively culturally homogeneous.

The VICC program allows students from both the city and the county to intermingle, and by exposing children to different cultures, we broaden their life experiences. Areas like Wildwood and Eureka are almost free of poverty, and by only exposing students to this sheltered worldview, it is doing them a great disservice. By introducing county students to city students, many of the real problems faced by people in our community addressed. “Seeing how many other half lives” is a real issue when it comes to creating an accurate view of the world, and breeding a generation of students ignorant of issues around them is not something out schools should do.

Additionally, this program helps to dispel stereotypes about race at a young age. Racism occurs when people base their views of a particular race entirely off of stereotypes, and judge all members of that race because of it. In fact, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor Dr. Erin N. Winkler recently published a paper titled Children are not Colorblind that unless taught otherwise, children develop racial biases at a young age, even if the adults in their life are not racist. By becoming friends with African-American children at a young age through school, the Caucasian students learn that the content of someone’s character had nothing to do with their skin. With the VICC program, as opposed to that lesson being some irrelevant story that rarely applies to everyday life, it is demonstrated every day through interactions with people from a variety of racial backgrounds.

In addition to the benefits to how students learn to interact with the world, the VICC program also gives students from the city a better education. By giving students from the city better access to dedicated teachers and ample equipment to help them succeed, they have the ability to get a better education, which will in turn help their not only them, but their communities and the nation as a whole. Educated members of society start businesses, provide valuable services, and create jobs, benefiting everyone.

In short, the benefits of the VICC program extend much further than to participating students. The program benefits all students from the city or the county, and the country as a whole.