Tuesday, August 26, 2008

WHAT Can we do to prevent a million dropouts a year?

By l.t. Dravis

THE GOOD NEWS is . . . every child in America is guaranteed the opportunity to prepare for life, a job, and a career with a free education from Kindergarten through high school. According to the Department of Education, we will spend about $900 billion this year, not counting state and local funding, to educate approximately 78 million K-12 students.

The bad news is . . . 30% of high school students, or about a million kids, drop out every year to do nothing, commit crimes, or work in dead-end jobs. On a state-by-state basis, drop out rates fluctuate from Nevada’s 55 percent to New Jersey’s 16 percent.

In human terms and in dollars and cents, the high school dropout problem is costly. Moreover, dropouts are typically doomed to live in poverty, chronically unemployed or underemployed, and are likely to wind up in prison and/or on public assistance.

According to the 2006 U.S. Census, the average high school graduate earns approximately $280,000.00 more over his or her working life than the average high school dropout. Because high school dropouts either can’t find jobs or wind up stuck in minimum wage jobs, each year’s class of dropouts costs the nation more than $200 billion in lost wages and tax revenues.

Dropouts say they quit school because they didn’t fit it, didn’t see any value in education, and were bored stiff. Surprisingly, most dropouts are not failing when they leave school.

National Education Association President, Reg Weaver recently spoke at a Michigan Education Association conference where he said, “The greatest cost and the greatest loss are the thousands of dreams that die every day when a child gives up without getting a quality education. These children aren’t falling through the cracks. They’re falling through a crater, a crater that swallows their future and threatens the future of the entire nation.”

Okay . . . we all agree . . . we’ve got a serious problem on our hands.

So, as educators, parents, and concerned citizens, what can we do to keep our children on track, in the classroom, learning to live full, rich lives as productive members of the American scene?

If educators, parents, and politicians can overcome apathy and put their differences aside to take the 5 following steps, we could drop the dropout rate like a bad habit:

  1. Act early, seriously, and consistently to make sure students from kindergarten through middle school are learning at grade-level so they’re prepared to handle classroom and homework requirements when they reach high school
  2. Bring parents into on-campus workshops to acquaint them with their children’s curriculum, classroom assignments, homework assignments, grading standards, and behavioral expectations
  3. Expand high school graduation options by developing creative partnerships with local businesses and community colleges to fast-track students into trade & technical school vocational training programs
  4. Provide local and state funding to train administrators and teachers to motivate at-risk students to understand and appreciate the true value and absolute need to become educated in life skills and vocational training
  5. Request federal funding to pay for dropout prevention programs in states that make high school graduation mandatory for everyone 21 and younger

EPILOGUE: This is not about you or me or administrators, parents, teachers, or politicians . . . this is about kids who need the adults in their lives to work together to give them the support, the structure, and the momentum to get the education they’ll need to live full, rich, and more productive lives than we do.

Isn’t that the least we can do for our children and their future?

Want to do something . . . today . . . to help improve education for your children, my children, everyone’s children?

Good . . . Contact PROJECT APPLESEED at (615) 686-2195, FAX to (314) 725-2319, or email headquarters@projectappleseed.org. The physical address is 520 Melville – St. Lous, MO 63130 . . . you will not be wasting your time!

Copyright © 2008 by l.t. Dravis. All rights reserved.

If you have questions, comments, or concerns, Email me at LTDAssociates@msn.com (goes right to my desk) and since I personally answer every Email, I look forward to hearing from you soon.

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