The Year of Moving Forward

The Year of Moving Forward
At our 4 person wedding reception in DC

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

More on education and dropouts in Bessemer

Some discussion following my last post about Bessemer graduation rates led me to do a little research on dropouts.

 Photo from All4Ed

I'm sure that hundreds of studies have been done and I'm sure that educators in Bessemer are familiar with these reasons, but the common folk like me may not be.

This particular list comes from Solutions for America, which believes "Contrary to popular beliefs that nothing works to solve tough community problems such as homelessness, crime, and youth unemployment, we know that SOME THINGS WORK."

  •  The relationship between students and teachers is the most important factor in student’s school experience, whether positive or negative.
  •  The disruptiveness of peers in school causes students to feel distracted and unsafe, leading to increased chance of dropping out. (Remember my experience trying to address bullying in Bessemer? Still haven't heard back.)
  •  The pace of instruction is an important reason youth give for leaving school – students who need extra attention and don’t receive it are likely to dropout.
  •  Personal problems cause youth to leave school if they do not have a trusted adult from whom they can seek help.
  •  Students in small alternative programs appreciate the increased attention and the opportunity to work at their own pace.
  •  Weak academic skills can cripple efforts to recover dropouts in “second chance” programs unless they receive even more attention from community volunteers.
  •  Economic needs can compete with pursuing education after dropping out.
  •  Students who come from single parent families, have a mother who dropped out of high school, have parents who provide low support for learning, or have parents who do not know their friends’ parents well are also all at a higher risk of dropping out than other students. 
Recent (at the time) dropouts were interviewed. Here is some of what they had to say (still getting info from Solutions for America.).

  • Improve teaching and curricula to enhance the connection between school and work. 81% of dropouts said there should be more opportunities for “real-world” learning so that students can see the connection between school and getting a job.
  •  Improve access to support for struggling students. 81% of dropouts surveyed wanted “better” teachers. 75% wanted smaller classes. 70% believed that more tutoring, summer school and extra time with teachers would have improved their chances of graduating. (This is where my volunteer efforts would have com into play).
  •  Foster academics. 70% of dropouts said that “increasing supervision in school” and 62% said “more classroom discipline” was necessary to ensure success. 57% said that their schools “did not do enough” to help student’s feel safe from violence. (This is where stricter anti-harassment policies would help.)
  •  Promote close relationships with adults. Only 41% of dropouts reported having someone to talk to about personal problems. 62% said they would like to see schools do more to help students with problems outside of class. Only 47% said the schools even bothered to contact them after they dropped out.  
The chances of principals and teachers and school board members seeing and reading this is pretty low. But hopefully, they are aware of the problems and are working on solutions. 

We see educators (usually from states like New Jersey and New York on Morning Joe (on MSNBC) on occasion talking about their successful programs  turning their schools around. So the information is out there. The Bessemer system does not have to re-invent the wheel.

And the community is behind you.  (Most of) the parents, the business owners, the citizens who do not have children in school, and (most of) the kids themselves want the schools to succeed. Let's hope the administrators take the steps, quickly, to make this happen.

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