School Dropouts A Major Problem

Published 5:45 am Wednesday, March 19, 2003

By Staff
The subject of public school dropouts is one that most citizens of a given community just seem to be indifferent about, unless it is happening to their child. Yet, our public schools over North Carolina have a bigger problem than we have heretofore realized.
There are two sides in the argument regarding the reasons young people quit school. First of all, it is said over and over that a boy in a given class who wishes to quit school is a real deterrent in that class for students who want to learn. He is so often disruptive and what we might call a discipline problem. Thus, from the standpoint of other students, the sooner that boy leaves school, the better will be the learning opportunities for the others in the class. The very fact that one must be 16 years of age before quitting school holds many youngsters who fit into the category above.
Now the other side to the argument says that when there is evidence that a boy or girl wants to quit school, then the administration and teachers ought to provide a program of encouragement to that youngster in an effort to create within the pupil a desire to learn. When it comes to a situation of teacher and pupil, then we feel that without set programs that teacher does all within her power to cause that boy to change his ways. Teachers are not indifferent to the problems, and surely they know far more about the overall problem than anyone else knows. But so often there comes a time when teachers want to throw up their hands and say "I cannot win."
Just where do the parents or guardians fit into the picture? So very often the parent either wants to blame the teachers for a pupil's attitude about quitting school or they do not care one way or the other about the son's attitude.
When a boy reaches 16 years of age and quits school, what happens to him then? So often a sad and tragic story develops. It is well nigh impossible for him to find a job since quitting school is hardly a good recommendation. His parents or guardians so often have them to face the truth with someone on their hands to feed and clothe who gives so little in return.
Some school administrative units over our state are faced with what they say is a real problem. For instance, last school year in Durham County saw 583 youngsters quit school. Certainly, there is a challenge there for school officials and teachers to study. We are told that if we should check the prison camps in North Carolina, we'd discover that a majority of those inside never graduated from high school. In fact, a recent survey indicated that perhaps half of them never reached higher than the 8th grade.
We do have a problem, it appears to us. We look at both sides of the argument, and we see virtue in each. Education does not guarantee success in life. It does improve the opportunities for success in the times ahead.