It is neither sexy nor riddled with bullets; subsequently, the soaring high school dropout rate is not usually making headlines. Of course, when the rates surpass the 50% mark, even the most sensationalist news networks must pay attention.
Preparing for a Soaring High School Dropout Rate?
Chicago’s CBS Channel 2 News reports on Chicago’s Myra Bradwell Elementary School, which will only see a 40% graduation rate for its eighth graders this year. A quick bit of math reveals that 60% of young teens are not going to be graduating. Granted, these are not high school dropout rate figures, but young teens, who are unable to pass eighth grade, are at a heightened risk of becoming school dropout statistics in the future.
The Ugly Reality of a Skyrocketing High School Dropout Rate: a Brief Look at 2008
Looking across the country to Los Angeles’ Jefferson High School brings home the reality of a soaring high school dropout rate: quoting the AP, the Daily Breeze reported in 2008 that 58% of students failed to graduate and dropped out before high school was out.
Tying together the alarming numbers of Chicago’s Myra Bradwell Elementary School students, who will fail to graduate 8th grade this year, and the teens who became high school dropouts at L.A.’s Jefferson High School last year is surprisingly simple.
Russell Rumberger of the California Dropout Research Project said it best when he claimed that children who undergo significant letdowns – such as academic failure – are likely to simply throw up their hands and quit. Is it possible that today’s lack of academic success for 8th graders will translate into tomorrow’s heightened high school dropout rate?
Who is to Blame for the High School Dropout Rate?
Blame for the high school dropout rate has been handed around like a hot potato. Especially at the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) the blame is scrutinized against the backdrop of budget cuts. Media outlets cannot decide whom to blame, and some groups refuse to accept blame altogether.
Parents: It stands to reason that parents are the primary authority figures in a high school dropout’s choices, and as such have the power to stop the derailment of an academic career well in advance of its culmination. Unfortunately, some parents like to point fingers to school administrators and teachers. Overworked, sometimes single, and with no solid support network in place, there are parents who are overwhelmed with daily responsibilities, raising teens, and keeping up with failing grades.
School Administrators/Teachers: Those in the schools take umbrage to the blame apportioned to them. They cite lack of state funding, lack of parental involvement, and classes filled with troublemakers, gang bangers, and non English speakers as the reasons why high school dropout rates are soaring.
Law Makers: Legislators blame citizens – especially in California – who refuse to see their property taxes raised even more to fund education. They point out that policing of campuses with known gang problems is not up to par and call for more funding for gang intervention programs, such as the hotly debated midnight basketball. Moreover, they call for new programs that allow for bilingual education on the high school level.
Rescuing Kids from the School of Hard Knocks
It is noteworthy that the LAUSD has been working on reaching out to teens, who are en route to becoming high school dropouts. Home visits conducted by school district employees are slated to offer depressed, unemployed teens another chance of coming back to school and finishing their education. Unfortunately, these home visits do little to address the campus gang violence and the lacking or inadequate support networks.
If it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to keep one in school?