Take this drop-out quiz.
Students in the old one room schoolhouses dropped out of school because they were more useful on the family farm. In case you haven’t noticed, the small family farm no longer exists. Dropping out of school to work on the farm was once a valid reason. Today dropping out of school is not an option.
I’m trying to understand why we take a rather “Ho-hum” attitude about the drop-out problem in our high schools. Maybe we just don’t have enough facts about the problem. See how you do on this drop-out quiz.
1. A student drops out of high school every: a. hour, b. 2 hours, c. every 24 minutes, d. every 26 seconds.
2. How many students drop out of school every day? a. 7, b. 70, c. 700, d. 7000.
3. The national drop-out rate is: a. 31%, b. 24%, c. 19%, d. 15%.
4. Which minority has the highest drop-out rate? a. Native Americans, b. African Americans, c. Hispanics, d. Asians.
5. The drop out rate in Minnesota for all students is: a. 15%, b. 18%, c. 23%, d. 29%.
6. Over the course of a lifetime, high school drop-outs will earn nearly: a. $300,000 less, b. $200,000 less, c. $400,000 less, d. $500,000 less than a high school graduate.
7. What percent of state prison inmates are high school drop-outs? a. 30%, b. 80%, c. 60%, d. 70%.
8. What percent of high school students who have a child don’t graduate? a. 40%, b. 50%, c. 60%, d. 70%.
Answers: 1. d. every 26 seconds, 2. d. 7000, 3. a. 31%, 4. a. Native Americans at 49%, 5. c. 23%, 6. a. $300,000 less, 7. d. 70%, 8. c. 60%.
How did you do? However you did you have to admit that the answers are very troublesome. Compared to a high school graduate, high school drop-outs, to say the least, have it pretty rough.
Did you know?
1. High school drop-outs are more likely to be poor.
2. High school drop-outs are more likely to be in poor health.
3. High school drop-outs are more likely to have children who drop out of school.
4. High school drop-outs are more likely to have poor housing.
5. High school drop-outs are more likely to have no health insurance.
6. High school drop-outs are more likely to go to jail.
7. High school drop-outs are more likely to die younger than graduates.
8. High school drop-outs are more likely to be depressed and have mental issues.
9. High school drop-outs are more likely to be unemployed.
10. High school drop-outs are more likely not to vote.
The reason why you and I need to get involved in helping all of our students graduate is not because of the enormous cost to society; not because drop-outs have less earning power; not because they do not vote or actively participate in society but because helping all students graduate is the right thing to do.
The human rights movement of the 1960’s was less about helping people get what they deserve in terms of rights but more about helping them acquire the dignity that had been taken away from them. The same is true today with high school drop-outs.
When a student drops out, they lose a piece of their self-respect; they lose part of their dignity. Helping all students graduate is a matter of restoring dignity.
What can you do? You can begin by asking educators and members of school boards about the graduation rate in your community. If their answer is 80%, ask about the other 20%. You can begin to talk to students who are not doing well in school and tell them about the consequences of dropping out. Make sure your own kids are doing well. Is their attendance good? Are they keeping up with the assignments? Are they getting along with other students and their teachers? Be relentless in getting answers and be persuasive in keeping them in school. Whatever you do, don’t give up on them. Educators need to have the same attitude.
We need to slap ourselves in the face to wake ourselves up about the drop-out dilemma. When 30 to 40 percent or even 10 or 15 percent of our students walk away without their diploma, it doesn’t say much about the rest of us who let this happen.