Programs can help dropouts

Published 10:50 pm Wednesday, August 5, 2009

By Staff
Schools in Brewton and East Brewton continue to make the grade, according to standards set and measured by the state.
But some high school students still need encouragement to stay in school and graduate. In particular, W.S. Neal High School did not meet all of its goals set by the state because its graduation rate was too low to meet the standards.
But Escambia County Schools officials have been working on that issue — and a new state law could help them get those numbers up.
We’re a small county, and with small schools just a few students can raise or lower the graduation rate by a few percentage points. Still, the point of following state standards is to adhere to the federal No Child Left Behind law, and school officials are working to make sure that, truly, no child is left behind.
This past spring legislators passed a new law requiring students to be 17 to be able to drop out of high school. The previous age was 16.
Escambia County Schools Superintendent Billy Hines believes that one extra year could help make the difference. By keeping students in school another year, they are that much closer to the goal of graduating.
Of course, just being in school is the easy part. The school system also has in place several remedial programs to help students who are making failing grades get back to where they need to be.
But the dropout rate isn’t just a problem for schools — it’s a problem for all of us. The higher our graduation rate, the better opportunities our future workforce has, and therefore that our entire community has.
All of us need to continue to encourage students to stay in school and get that diploma. The difference is makes is immeasurable, for them and for us.