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Educators Are Not Giving Up On State’s High Dropout Rate

By Paul Boger | Published 19 Dec 2013 08:29am | comments

Nearly 14 percent of Mississippi students dropped out of school last year, making the state's dropout rate almost twice the national average. MPB's Paul Boger reports educators and community leaders are looking at ways they can fix the problem. 

School administrators met with state and local officials, yesterday, to discuss ways to increase the state's high graduation rates.

Kimberly Smith-Russ is with the Miss. Black Alliance for Educational Options, and one of the participants at MPB's annual Dropout Prevention Summit "Stop the Drop."

"I think what we were able to do here was kind of shed the light on some of the things, bring out some of the facts and start a dialogue on some of the things that can be done to move this state from where we are to where we aspire to be." said Smith-Russ.

In a report released by the Department of Education earlier this year, nearly 14 percent of Mississippi's students dropped out of school last year. That's twice the national average of seven percent.

Donna Porter is a former educator from Picayune, she believes teachers need to do more to connect with students.

"I think it's the role of all educators to not just deliver instruction and focus on testing, but to work hard to make sure that every classroom is a safe haven where the students feel connected to the teacher." said Porter. "You will do things for a teacher if you feel connected to her."

Robert Langford is with Operation Shoestring -- a community outreach program in Jackson. He says whatever educators decide to do, they have to be strong.

"Make a decision to do it." said Langford. "Make it a priority and have the will and the courage to do that. I think what that really looks like goes back to the expression 'everybody wants progress, but nobody wants change."

While the state continues to have problems with its large dropout rate, the graduation rates in Mississippi have been steadily improving.




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