The high school drop out rate: A partial solution

The following article indicates that the adult population in Texas has come close to abdicating its obligation to educating the children in our society.  It is an indication that we are moving into an era when ignorance prevails and an era in which the weak with be further targeted and victimized by those in power.  It proves without question that democracy is in jeopardy.

As part of my education package, I have made a commitment to give teachers an across the board $2,500 raise if I am elected.  I have committed to give teachers equal rights with students in the classroom.  I have committed to raising the minimum standards in schools such that every child in this state will have access to computers.  I also intend to initiate programs by which students who learn best with computers are allowed to do so and students who need personal instruction are provided with that personal tutoring.  

Yet this is not enough.  I believe that we must begin a program within the high schools whereby children who have no inclination or desire to go to college can enroll in the 10th grade in a vocational program through which they will be able to immediately upon graduation find a valuable job in society.  This means that they would be able to immediately upon graduation go to work as barbers, auto mechanics, legal assistants, vocational nurses and so on.  I believe that many children will stay in school and graduate if they see that by graduating with a vocational degree they can make more money than if they drop out of school and take a fast food, grocery store or car wash job.

It is absolutely unacceptable to me for these conditions to continue in our schools.  As governor, I will solve this problem.  As governor I intend to honor my commitment to educate the future generations of this state.  

John WorldPeace

The next governor of Texas
November 13, 2001 

Nov. 13, 2001, 10:59PM

New report underscores Houston's dropout rate 
Half of HISD students fail to graduate 
Copyright 2001 Houston Chronicle 

Nearly half of the HISD students who would have graduated in the class of 1998 dropped out, according to a report released Tuesday. 

The report by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, a public-policy think tank in New York, showed that among the 50 largest school districts in the country, Houston ranked 43rd with a graduation rate of 52 percent. 

The report mirrored a Harvard University study in January that yielded similar findings, giving the Houston Independent School District the seventh-highest high school dropout rate among the nation's urban school districts. 

The Manhattan report also showed that while 84 percent of Anglos graduated in HISD schools, only 55 percent of blacks and 42 percent of Hispanics did. 

The disparity has a lot to do with the parents' education level, wealth and ability to navigate the system, said Kaleem Caire of the Black Alliance for Educational Options. 

The nonprofit organization, which provides educational information to parents, commissioned the study. 

Nationally, the graduation rate was 74 percent. It was 78 percent for Anglo students, 56 percent for blacks and 54 percent for Hispanics. 

"The graduation rates are lower than most people expect," said Jay P. Greene, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. 

Greene, who conducted the study, writes and researches education policy. 

An HISD spokeswoman said officials have not seen the report yet and declined to comment. 

Some cities reflected little difference among races. 

In Cleveland, blacks had the highest graduation rate at 29 percent, Hispanics followed with 26 percent, and Anglos were last at 23 percent. The city's average was 28 percent. 

Fairfax, Va., had the highest rate at 87 percent. 

Houston tied with Dallas and was a percentage point lower than Fort Worth. 

Although students of every race were considered, races with a small population count were not broken out into subgroups, Greene said. 

To conduct the report, eighth-grade enrollment in fall 1993 was compared with the number of high school diplomas awarded in spring 1998, when those students were scheduled to graduate. 

Student population changes also were taken into account. 

A major difference between these findings and Department of Education reports is the definition of a high school graduate. 

Unlike Greene, the government counts those who have achieved alternative credentials such as the general equivalency diploma. 

The National Center for Education Statistics calculated an 86 percent graduation rate in 1998, said spokeswoman Lindsey Kozberg of the Department of Education. Excluding GED certificates, that figure would be 75 percent, she said, close to Greene's 74 percent. 

Greene said his conclusions, while not "absolutely precise," are close. 

"I was pleased to see that some school districts were able to perform very well with low-income minority students," said Greene, referring to the Boston School District, where blacks had an 85 percent graduation rate. 

"There's some reason for optimism," he said. "Demographics are not destiny."