By The Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Miss
JACKSON, Miss. —
The negative impact of the high dropout rate in Mississippi is so profound that it’s difficult to understand at first glance why a solution has not been found, a silver bullet. After all, some of the brightest, most dedicated and sincere people in the state have been focused on the problem, some of them for years.
Then you look closer, as The Clarion-Ledger has done, and you begin to see a complex problem with tentacles reaching into every facet of a child’s life. Predictably, issues that can lead to a student quitting school before he or she has a basic education start in the home, but family problems such as neglectful, abusive or uninvolved parents are not the whole story.
Among other issues experts say are factors: bullying, teen pregnancy, academic problems such as inability to pass required tests for graduation, peer pressure to get a job or join a gang, financial needs in the family, health issues, learning or physical disabilities, lack of motivation, lack of support from parents, teachers and administrators, drug or alcohol abuse, disciplinary problems and suspensions for misbehavior such as fighting.
There is no magic bullet.
What there is involves much of what we see moving in Mississippi: smart, motivated adults trying to build a better education and support system for our kids without the benefit of unlimited funds.
Some public schools and school districts outperform others in the dropout area, so there are strategies that can be looked at. The Legislature at some point will decide if charter schools would be a boost in Mississippi. Most educators believe pre-K education statewide would result in fewer kids dropping out because they can’t compete academically. ...
Structural changes will take time. Meanwhile, more kids will drop out. The costs to that young person and the collective loss for the state in economic terms are enormous. The social impact also is significant. For instance, statistics show people who drop out of school before graduating from high school are more likely to eventually enter the criminal justice system.
There’s also a personal tragedy in many cases, a young person entering adulthood with diminished possibilities and hope. ...
If the child’s parents can’t or won’t provide that helping hand, it may have to be a neighbor, uncle or aunt, teacher or Sunday School teacher.
It could be you.