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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Summit on High School Dropouts tomorrow in DC

I just saw in Time magazine that the Gates Foundation is sponsoring a summit on the high school dropout rate in the United States tomorrow in Washington D.C. They are calling it the "Silent Epidemic" because nearly one-third of American high school students do not graduate. So shocking, so sad. This in 2007, not 1977, not 1957. What will these kids do without a diploma and what will it mean to the rest of us? I haven't read the full report but I am expecting depressing reading. The Time article did say that transfer schools (such as John Marshall) have a much higher rate of getting kids who have few credits and are overage for having such few credits on the road to graduation. Marshall needs support (and a new principal) because we need varied ways to attack this issue.

I thought about it today because I was going to Roosevelt to work on the archives. I saw a group of 4 students in front of the school who sauntered off down the street. I knew they were going (in front of a cheap, rundown rental house) to smoke. I saw 4 other students. I walked down and you could see in their faces they were hoping I'd walk by. I asked them why they weren't in school. Blah, blah, don't have class. I told them that at least half of them likely did have class and that they were missing an educational opportunity. One guy said "Who are you?" I told him I was a concerned adult and that's all I needed to be. I told him that all adults used to be concerned if they saw kids, any kids, walking around during school hours. One student told me that was his mom's job and I said, nope, it's mine too. I told them that adults at RHS did care about them and reminded them that all the instructors at VTech died. A couple of the students said the teachers at RHS wouldn't do that for them (based on self preservation). I said if that were true why did ALL the instructors at VTech die. They shrugged.

I left feeling sad. But a librarian at RHS, who I told the story to, said they had to save face but that I just might have made an impression on one of them. I hope so.

1 comment:

Jet City mom said...

Melissa since no one has responded I want to share my thoughts- although I admit it has been a long time since I was in high school.

I was one of those kids going off campus to smoke- only all we had to do was step thru the fence & I dont remember any adult ever coming and trying to talk to us.

This was also in the days when there were "smoking bathrooms" ( funny- we had smoking bathrooms- but girls couldn't wear jeans to school)

I was actually suspended from school during one of the bathroom sweeps- but after my three day suspension- didn't want to go back- so I attended an alternative school ( not quite like Marshall)- which was the first time I really had teachers/adults that I could connect with.

It makes huge difference to kids to have adults who care about them, although out of pride, shyness, or independence, they don't usually show it.

Parents, often don't know what to do, or the teen even feels that they "have" to care about them, so I think that it is even more important that adults from the community stay involved with students and help them transition into becoming a young adult.

Adults don't often know, when something is going to take, and sometimes it can take an awful lot of effort to break through- but I can't emphasize enough, we can't stop caring & we can't throw up our hands.

We need to remember, that they are still kids- they may think they are adults, but they are 17 going on 9 sometimes. Even if they don't take our advice, they often do see our genuine attention as positive, even if we are lecturing them.( especially if you are not related!)