We at State of the Re:Union are getting into the school spirit just in time for the start of the academic season. For the second segment of the School Spotlight, SOTRU is taking a look at the issues surrounding the growing dropout rate and what initiatives are being done to combat this problem. The American Graduate initiative is a collaborative effort of CPB and other community-minded organizations. This is a campaign to create more awareness about this troubling issue. This program will be implemented in 20 communities around the country (found on link above). Unlike many other graduation initiative programs that focus on high schoolers, American Graduate will concentrate on middle schoolers. The “middle child” of our school systems can sometimes be overlooked in regards to programs such as this, and it is this crucial time that will make or break a student’s school habits. During this developmental period, kids encounter countless obstacles and are easily influenced. Without the appropriate type of encouragement, their futures could easily derail the track leading to a high school graduation.
Since public media broadcasting stations are steeped in their communities, who better to deliver this urgent and pressing message on a local level? These stations understand how to reach stakeholders, and the men and women making up their city. They also understand the importance of delivering this message, rallying support and helping their communities coordinate efforts. Their attempts to reach at-risk children can also be seen in their programming. There is a long history of public media trying to assist the people of our nation in moving beyond hurtles keeping children back: poverty, immigration, and other obstacles associated with dropouts.
In addition to public media channels, this Dropout Prevention Awareness Campaign will blanket the airways with specials and shows highlighting this dilemma and what it means to us as a nation. Dynamos, such as America Ferrera, Hill Harper and Aimee Garcia (among others) are standing at the forefront of this initiative. They are actively involved with and speaking out about the seriousness of how this is affecting our youth. Our nation’s graduation rate is right at 70 percent, and some communities are below that average. Growing dropouts rates will have a devastating impact on an already fragile economy, and that is something that we cannot afford. According to a report by American Graduate, high school dropouts will accrue our country a tab of more than $300 million in lost wages, taxes and productivity. This can lead to a rise in crime, drug use and homelessness. Our students, and our country, will benefit from making the connection between the relevancy of why school matters. Children need to learn the perks associated with graduating high school and venturing onto college. Yes, the monetary potential increases, helping drive our economy, but so does the level of confidence … and that is worth more than its weight in gold.
American Graduate is allowing each of the 20 “hubs” to come up with solutions that will work for their students. As practice and policy varies between regions, so does the way in which a child learns. (Hub list found on American Graduate site.) The teachers and administrators involved in this effort understand this and are working to customize programs that will offer the best solution for their community. This program will help engage communities and families in children’s school lives, a great way to reinforce the desire for success. To assist in further efforts to eradicate this problem, the National Center for Media Engagement is offering additional grants to as many as another 40 schools.
There are many people and organizations raising their voices in unison on the dropout rate, and we at SOTRU are listening. To assist in spreading the awareness, we will continue to investigate other initiatives and designed to combat a declining graduation rate. If you know of a program or initiative working to solve this problem in your community, we would love to learn about it.