Want to Lower The Drop-Out Rate?

Consider teaching, advocating or agitating

By Post StaffIt’s official. One out of four high school students in California drop out of school without a diploma. After years of disputing this estimate, the state has developed a method of tracking individual high school students which paints a clearer picture of the problem. State Superintendent of Instruction, Jack O’Connell announced the report in Van Nuys last week and noted that the numbers for Black and Latino students are much worse with 41% of Black students and 30% of Latino students leaving school without a diploma.
The good news is that Oakland is already working on the problem. The most important thing school systems can do, according to the Mayor’s education director, Kitty Kelly Epstein, is to ensure that youngsters have permanent, diverse, and effective teachers who communicate with parents and keep track of what is happening with young people when they begin to cut school or have trouble in classes. A workshop at City Hall on July 28 from 5-7 will help diverse, Oakland-based individuals with a Bachelors degree help to lower the drop-out rate by becoming teachers. Contact Jeff Dillon at recruitment@ousd.k12.ca.us.
The Mayor-initiated task force on high school dropouts proposed a student advocate program and the school district has started such a program, recruiting large numbers of mentor/advocates to assist youngsters through the maze of issues which confront teen-agers. Contact Risha Riley at Risha.Riley@ousd.k12.ca.us.
Post Publisher Paul Cobb is proposing an incentive program to encourage 100% attendance and participation in after-school mathematics tutorials. Since truancy almost always precedes dropping out, this could play an important role in lowering the drop-out rate. Contact at www.postnewsgroup.net.
California’s school financing system is a major contributor to the drop-out problem. California spends less money per student than 46 other states, in spite of its wealth and diversity. Many solutions have been proposed, and many of these are already in place in other states: oil extraction taxes; higher tax rates for the wealthiest; changing the law which requires a 2/3 vote of the state legislature to pass a budget, and others. Contact Henry Hitz from Oakland Parents Together for ideas about how to agitate and advocate on this issue at henry@parentstogether.org
Keep reading the Post to learn about other initiatives and ways that you can help youngsters stay in school and move on to college or a career.