America’s expectation that all students will graduate from high school has increased throughout the 20th century and continues to be a focus for educational policies in the United States. High school graduation rates have gained increasing prominence as a key issue in educational policy since the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) was passed into law in January 2002. The NCLB has generated a great deal of research regarding high school dropouts. According to the Children’s Defense Fund, researchers agree that every nine seconds a student decides to permanently leave high school prior to graduation. This early exit from high school has forced policymakers to investigate and research the educational, economic, and civic impact of dropouts on society.
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A high school diploma has long been regarded as a requirement for economic and social well-being. Generally, the higher levels of education an individual has, the higher the income, the more stable the employment, and the less the individual is dependent on public assistance.
The decision to drop out of high school is rarely caused by one event. Many students show warning signs years before they leave high school. Whatever the causes, a decision to drop out of high school can have future negative effects on the individual as well as society. Every year, more than one million United States students decide to drop out of high school. These dropouts are unprepared for meaningful work or postsecondary education.
Our communities can no longer afford to allow this trend to continue. We all need to work together to keep children in school and improve the well being our communities.
Here are some things you and I can do to help:
- If you are a parent and you want your child to graduate on time and prepared for college, talk to your child’s teachers and counselors to ensure that he/she is on track to meet the school’s graduation requirements.
- If you are a concerned citizen, attend local school meetings to gather more information of what your local high school reform efforts are.
- If you are an educator, pursue professional development opportunities that present new ideas about high school curriculum and instruction. Have an open mind.
Barbara Baggerly-Hinojosa is a mother, educator, and wife living in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas. She is a PhD student with Our Lady of the Lake University in Leadership Studies. Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the President of the Leadership Empowerment Group, LLC and is currently researching the relationship between the leadership of the high school principal and the high school drop out rate. Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa is the author of Are You A Ten? The Ten Characteristics of a Servant Leader. For ordering information, please contact Mrs. Baggerly-Hinojosa at Barb313679@aol.com.