The Los Angeles Times has done a stellar job of reporting on the dropout crisis in American schools, earlier in the year they had a weeklong series that examined the root issues behind the dropout rate and some of what’s being done. There’s a lot to be said about the dropout problem in Los Angeles, according to one recent estimate it is the second largest school system in America and only graduates slightly more than 44% of its students.
All the more reason, then, for the Times to report some positive news on what’s being done to stem the tide. The paper recently reported on Debra Duardo, a high school dropout as a freshman who, after dropping out, spent the next decade finishing her education at a local community college and UCLA. Now, at age 43, she is director of dropout prevention and recovery in her former high school’s district and is looking to hire and assign coordinators for the school district that will attempt to coax students not to leave school or get those who have to return.
The stakes are high for these students, dropping-out can be the difference between someone who provides for themselves versus relying on the state or community. According to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, “Individuals who fail to graduate from high school face a life of lower wages and increased dependence on support programs. Some even turn to crime. For the state, large numbers of high school dropouts mean it becomes harder to attract new business; tax revenue decreases, and additional spending on social programs and incarceration is required. For the nation, dropouts translate into lost human potential and a weakened ability to compete on a global scale.” There clearly are implications for one’s self-esteem as well as for one’s community and the outlays it will have to make in order to support that individual.
Debra Duardo is a rare success story of someone who dropped-out but clawed her way back to an education and a good job, not everyone will be so lucky. We need to help students work toward their diplomas so they won’t have to undertake the long route to success that Debra did.