Who Can Blame High School Dropouts in SC?
September 18, 2003
Is anyone really surprised by the study released yesterday that the public high school graduation rate in South Carolina is second to last in the nation? And the trend, according to the study, is that the problem will not be going away anytime soon.
Despite this bad education news, the same study found that South Carolina students who endure the rigors of high school all the way to graduation rank a little above the national average for college preparedness. I guess there is some solace in this news (although not very much as I will explain later), but it still does not answer why students are dropping out of high school at such an alarming rate.
Upon hearing the results of the study, South Carolina Department of Education spokesman Jim Foster sounded as perplexed as Inez Tenenbaum explaining why she is running for the U.S. Senate (she is still running, isnít she?).
"That sounds kind of odd, doesn't it?" Foster babbled, as if he didnít believe the facts of the study were accurate.
Wake up, Mr. Foster! Your boss is apparently not doing a very good job if kids are bolting South Carolina public schools left and right under her watch. What is truly odd is that Tenenbaum pretends that she has brought excellence to education. But the reality is that the achievement is only coming from those students who WANT to learn and not from that equally important group of students who are UNMOTIVATED to learn but are teachable.
I believe parental involvement in their childrenís studies cannot be emphasized enough. Why should a student care whether or not he does his math homework if mom or dad doesnít care if he does it or not? Parents may not even realize that their attitude regarding their kidís education plays such a huge role in the success students have in school. That in itself is a shame.
Also, there may be some parents who believe their child isnít smart enough to do the work the teachers have assigned because they have fallen behind the rest of their classmates. If the parents think it is too hard or too much, then what is that telling the student? What parents need to do is invest in a good tutor or work with their child themselves to bring them up to par with their peers.
When these kids get out in the real world someday, employers wonít be as forgiving as the public school system in regards to improving in the job they have been hired to do. If students donít learn the importance of applying themselves now, then we will have an entire generation of lazy and detached workers in the future (wait, is it possible weíre already there?).
Additionally, authority at school is disrespected because there is an obvious lack of discipline at home. Now that teachers are no longer allowed to conduct corporal punishment for poor behavior in school, they are left powerless to control students who see how much they can get away with. Now Johnny, you go off to that room over there and be a good little boy, okay? No amount of timeout or isolation from the rest of the students can replace the real deterrence of a spanking.
And, despite the good intentions of people like Principal Lillie Lewis at Carolina High School, giving away free computers is NOT the answer to the problem. I agree there needs to be something to motivate parents to be more involved in education.
But why do PARENTS need to be motivated with bribes? Shouldnít they care enough to make sure their kids get as good or better an education than they did? I donít have children yet, but I hope my future offspring will be able to achieve so much more than I did educationally and in their careers. Where is the love and concern from parents for their childrenís future?
I am well aware that many kids are growing up in broken homes. I did when I was growing up. I did not have a consistent strong male figure for most of my childhood. This is something that can cause problems for students who are easily influenced by their friends who are in a similar circumstance. Therefore, I support mentoring programs like Big Brother/Big Sister to provide support for kids stuck in these situations that are out of their control.
But without this support, some children start acting out on the frustration that has built up from feelings of neglect and abandonment they may feel from a divorce or separation from a parent. Many students probably drop out of school completely because they feel like their life is unimportant. All kids want is to know they are genuinely loved and given the respect they deserve as a human being. Yet, as I have stated before, this is not happening in many households.
The report applauds the fact that one-third of South Carolina high school students pass their college prep classes and are able to read well enough to attend college by the time they graduate high school. Nationally, it is one out of five and in the South the rate is 38 percent.
One out of three high school graduates in South Carolina being ready for college is deemed a SUCCESS?!?! Those statistics might be good in baseball, but not for education. When are we going to raise the standard in South Carolina to say that 9 out of 10 students who graduate will be ready for college or a career immediately? Is that too unreasonable to achieve? Apparently for the current leadership in the South Carolina Department of Education it is.
The study also finds that less than six out of ten students who enter the ninth grade will earn their high school degree. Our Southern neighbors Georgia and Florida were only slightly worse than South Carolina in the report. Heck, even the District of Columbia, which is spending about a million dollars a pupil (donít write me, itís called sarcasm!) have better graduation rates than we do!
But letís go back to the Education Department spokesman for a little unexpected insight about why this is happening in South Carolina.
"Our graduation rate is not good," Foster said, stating the obvious. "It hasn't been good for generations in this state, and it's a real problem."
Ah, the spokesdummy might have hit on something and probably doesnít even realize it. And herein lies the problem. If a student who doesnít care about school finds out that his or her parents dropped out of high school years ago without graduating, then what is stopping them from following in the footsteps of mom and dad? Itís a ruthless cycle that must be stopped or South Carolina is doomed to continue the generations of poorly educated children.