Op-Ed: Drop Out Rate Can Be Lowered

By Alice Marie Smith

The teen drop out rate has increased dramatically over the last few years and continues to do so. As a junior at Edison High School, closely approaching my senior year, I see more and more familiar faces dropping out. The kids I played ‘“pee-wee” soccer with and the girls I cheered with in “ pop-warner” are the ones I least expected to ever even think about dropping out and sadly, they were the first of the familiar faces to do so.

Though it may be impossible to force a student to stay in school, I believe there are a few ways of preventing teen dropouts and lowering the rates.

Being a high school student sometimes can be difficult and even I catch myself saying, “Geez, I sure can’t wait to get out of this place!” or “When will high school be over?”

For moments like those I turn to a parental figure and ask for advice. Unfortunately, there are students who don’t have a parental figure to offer them advice. They don’t get the encouragement and motivation they need and deserve.

I strongly believe that if school administration, teachers, counselors, or even fellow classmates took more time to offer words of wisdom to these students, it would show them someone cares and wants them to do well.

Secondly I believe that if more teachers, parents and school administration recognized the good deeds or qualities of those kids who are “always in the office” or the “ditcher” or the “suspended once again student”, it might help that student feel a bit more positive knowing someone is proud of him or her and is willing to show it.

For example, my younger cousin who is in middle school is one of those boys: always in a fight, getting suspended or caught ditching. It seems to be all that his teachers notice. Teachers spend each day with their students and should have a good sense of their students’ talents. My younger cousin is an excellent artist and his art teacher was so focused on the negative things he did that she failed to offer him a simple “good job” after he had completed many beautiful drawings.

He got so discouraged he didn’t see any point in showing up to class if no one would pay any mind to all the good he was trying to do. I am sure there are many students out there who feel the same way. If someone of a higher authority would take the time to guide students on a positive path or simply say “good job”, I am almost entirely sure it will make a difference in the way students view their schoolwork.

My final thought on how to prevent dropouts, offer more one-on-one tutoring or take time to sit and talk with the student who feels “lost”. Make those students feel like someone really does care and wants to help. Tutoring will give the student a chance to catch up on missed assignments, get extra help, or have a quiet place to just sit and study. One-on-one tutoring may benefit more than a group session because it allows the student to get help and ask specific questions on the assignments that she or he might have been too embarrassed to ask in class. A one-on-one chat with the student allows the concerned adult to see what is going on in the student’s life and help them get on the right path.

Although there is no guaranteed way to keep a student from dropping out, offering words of wisdom, recognition for their work and talent, and some one-on-one tutoring and chat sessions will definitely make a difference.

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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