I remember when I was in high school. Yes, cue the old lady voice. It wasn't that long ago. Okay, maybe it was. But I don't remember that many dropouts. There were some, and many of them went on to be successful and happy, but as the saying goes, times have changed.
The rate of kids who ditch school is rising -- right now 1 in 4 drop out. One in 4. This scares me. Mostly because I feel it's us -- the parents -- failing our kids. What the heck are we doing wrong? It's not just us. It's the school system, too. And even though former Secretary of State Colin Powell and his children's advocacy group America's Promise Alliance are working toward a goal of a 90 percent graduation rate in America by 2020, the current dropout rates aren't promising at all.
Wisconsin is the only state to meet the goal of a 90 percent graduation rate with Vermont close behind. Does it make you want to move there? Yet the schools in New York and Tennessee are showing increasing drop out rates, which isn't good news for me since we live in New York. What is going on in these two states? Why aren't kids staying in school? It's not just those two states "failing" our kids.
The Alliance had some detail on Nevada, which stood out for a really low graduation rate of 56 percent -- which is an insane number. More than half!? It was discovered that many kids dropped out because they found they could earn good money working on the Las Vegas Strip doing jobs like parking cars and pouring concrete (and who knows what else!). Those kids are out of work today because of the economy. Yes, many very well-educated people are out of work too because of the crap economy but the more education a person has, the better their chances of getting certain jobs.
Of course there are many, many very successful and smart people who are high school dropouts, but for me, when it comes to my kids I'd like them to finish high school, attend college, sow their educational oats if you will. And yes, if they drop out, I'll feel like a failure. Like I failed them as their mother. Is it that we aren't paying enough attention to our child's education? Are we not seeing the signs of a school that is failing our kids or teachers that aren't engaging our kids enough? Is the rise in teen pregnancies to blame?
High school grads are estimated to earn $130,000 more over their lifetimes than dropouts. But for me it's more than just money on why I want my kids to finish high school. It's for their minds. President Barack Obama has even encouraged states to pass laws that would require students to stay in school until they graduate or they turn 18. I'm very mixed on this. What if it's the school's fault? How is staying in a school that is failing a child going to help that child truly learn?
More needs to be done to get kids excited about learning. There isn't one answer, but the answers do start with us as parents. We have to do more.
What do you think of this high dropout rate? Do you think Obama's idea to have laws to require kids to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18 a good idea?
Image via dlp photo/Flickr