Dropout focus once again

The image “https://i0.wp.com/www.matthewktabor.com/images/gcs_logo.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors. We have breaking dropout numbers from GCS, but first…two opinions in today’s News & Record.

First, this Counterpoint:

Teachers were overcome by frustration

The following is a Counterpoint.

By Marilyn Fisher

I write this as a concerned citizen and a retired teacher. In recent weeks, I have been dismayed to read articles of student fights in our schools and even more appalled to learn of the reported student/teacher conflicts at Smith and Dudley high schools. At the very least, I hope that the superintendent will investigate the events and classroom environment that resulted in a teacher attaining such an intolerable level of frustration that it caused her to respond in the vernacular that she used.

Did the student who recorded the Smith teacher’s actions also record the events that led to her total meltdown?

The incident was preceded by a discussion regarding dissatisfaction on the part of the students with their conduct grades. Hopefully, Guilford County Schools Superintendent Terry Grier stressed the importance of proper behavior on the part of the students at some point during his apology to the students and their families. Respect is a two-way street and one must give it to receive it.

The words spoken by the teacher, “I love you and care about you …” are the words that should have made an impression on the class; they did on me. Evidently she did write references and referrals on the behalf of some students which also demonstrates the concern she has for her charges. Unfortunately, all of the positive things she has done have been negated by this incident. Music is an elective class and class members should appreciate and enjoy the experience.

It has been 10 years since I retired from my itinerant teaching position with the school system serving visually impaired students kindergarten through 12th grade. I had the good fortune to work in many schools throughout the county and spent massive amounts of time at Dudley and Smith. I was able to befriend, admire and observe teachers and students alike. I did occasionally witness acts of insolence and disrespect by students toward teachers. Yet in every class there are students who are focused on getting an education. Don’t they have the right to obtain one in an environment appropriate for learning by incorporating mutual respect and responsibility on the part of all involved?

I do not condone teachers losing control by using bad language or fighting with students. I do, however, recognize a call for help when I hear it.

School systems are rightfully concerned with student dropout rates. Shouldn’t they be at least as concerned with providing teachers with an optimum teaching environment to prevent them from leaving the profession?

The writer lives in Greensboro.

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Next, Greensboro resident Keith Hoile pens this article, saying high school dropouts will create an economic underclass:

 Andres Oppenheimer, a correspondent for the Miami Herald, discussed an alarming possibility in a column reprinted in the Nov. 7 News & Record. If the United States continues to adopt policies that tend to isolate illegal immigrants and their children who have been raised almost since birth in this country, Oppenheimer can imagine an ever-angrier immigrant underclass that may turn to violence when they perceive that even their children are legally proscribed from opportunities to participate fully in the American Dream.

I question whether violence would necessarily be limited to the so-called immigrant underclass. Data show that income and wealth gaps between the richest and poorest among us continue to increase, reaching extremes not seen since the 1920s. Because we have had such civil discourse and politics for so long, we forget that desperation can provoke protests and riots. For example, this occurred in the 1930s when World War I military veterans became frustrated enough to riot in the District of Columbia.

I am not suggesting current or future economic conditions are likely to be as severe as during the Great Depression. However, people’s expectations are much higher today, so they may not be willing to accept as much deprivation as our parents and grandparents. A recent Johns Hopkins report for the Associated Press called four Guilford County high schools “dropout factories,” together with 1,700 others throughout the country. What are the opportunities for high school dropouts today? Very dismal. On the Nov. 7 Diane Rehm program on WUNC-FM, former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, now the president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, stated that a high school dropout would typically earn $260,000 less during a lifetime than a high school graduate.

And we all know that even a high school education is not sufficient to prepare one for a job with a good economic future in America.

Returning to Guilford County, we should not be surprised at the four schools cited in the Associated Press report — Smith, Dudley, Eastern and Central. Dudley and Smith were threatened with outside intervention by Judge Howard Manning’s order last year. While some commentators have disputed the findings or methodology in the Associated Press report, the fact is that these four schools have struggled for years trying to educate all their students.

In 2000, I analyzed N.C. Department of Education data that showed Guilford County had much greater variation in test scores among its high schools than did Wake County. Much of the variation was accounted for by the different performance between schools like Grimsley and Dudley. (Incidentally, no Wake County high schools were included on the Associated Press dropout factory list.)

This situation need not be the case in Guilford County. Dudley was once a proud institution, graduating young men and women who have become some of our most distinguished citizens.

Academic problems do not suddenly materialize in ninth grade. They begin in elementary school, where we must increase our efforts, through special tutoring programs, more parental involvement, high quality teachers and other resources.

We can be proud that Guilford County’s Terry Grier was recently named the state’s top superintendent. Without taking any luster away from his many achievements, we still need a school system that educates all of our students, for their future and the future economic health of Guilford County.

We can’t tolerate a growing underclass here in Guilford County and the problems it would cause, whether or not we ever experience violence in the form of riots.

*************************

All this…leading up to new numbers just released today, from GCS, claiming fewer students dropped out during this past academic year.

Via the N&R:  The district reports that 680 out of about 22,700 students dropped out for a rate of 2.99 percent. That compares to 766 dropouts and a rate of 3.41 percent in 2005-06. Seven additional students dropped out in elementary and middle schools.

Hmmm….

More coverage and links from the N&R Chalkboard.

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E.C. 🙂

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