Mississippian’s Say ‘Stop the Drop’By Annie Gilbertson | Published 16 Nov 2011 09:07am |
The Alliance for Excellent Education says only about 2/3 of Mississippi High School students graduate on time and with a standard diploma. And even fewer black students make it into caps and gowns, leaving communities eager for reform. Southern Education Desk Reporter, Annie Gilbertson, reports that MPB's ”Stop the Drop" summit provided Jackson education advocates a chance to talk about the difference between "dropout" and "push-out."
Kyn-Porshia Johnson of Canton, Mississippi wasn't always sure she'd make it to graduation.
Johnson: There’s stress. You have teasing from family. You have people that did dropout of school that are encouraging others to dropout of school. So it’s just hard. If you have a single parent, that’s even harder.
Johnson’s mom dropped-out of high school. So did many adults around her. To her,dropping-out can seem almost expected in the black community.
In addition, Wayne McDaniels, President of the NAACP chapter in Jackson says the higher number of dropouts in the black community is due, in part, to racial discrimination.
McDaniels:We have a lot of discrimination complaints with several school systems in Mississippi. Children are being kicked out of school for first time infractions.
McDaniels says zero tolerance policies too often lead to what he calls “push outs”, rather than drop outs. He defines a “push out” as when students no longer feel welcome in the education system because of the system's policies.
But Shawna Davie of United Way says when dealing with black or white students, dropouts or push outs, there is one proven way to turn things around – and that’s for schools to put in place people that watch out for individual students needs.
Davie: In other words, if a student felt like someone in the building cared about them and was interested in their wellbeing and interested in what they wanted to do and become in life, they were more willing to do whatever was necessary to behave in a capacity that was going to allow them to achieve academically.
Davie says building these relationships isn’t just the responsibility of schools. Opportunities also lie in mentoring and tutoring, service learning, alternative schooling and after-school programs.
From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.
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