Friday, December 09, 2011

We all pay price for high school dropouts

In this article I’m providing quotes from some of the speakers at two events I attended this week in Chicago. On Wednesday the event was “Re-Enrolling Out of School youth: A state, County and City Action Blueprint". On Tuesday the event was “Connecting Communities for the Common Good” and was advertised as “Conversations and Partnership Opportunities with the Obama Administration’s Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships Office.”

I ran into some of the same people at both events. Many I've known for more than a decade.

This weekend I’ll post an article showing how maps can be used to build partnership and accountability and possibly to get the 51% of votes needed to affect legislation in the Illinois House and Senate. I’ll also show how volunteer-involvement in tutor/mentor programs can provide the extra adult support youth are calling for and can also build the extra political advocacy needed to gain needed legislative support.

But in this article I want to share some quotes and hopefully get more people thinking about this pipeline to jobs and careers. It's clogged.

Wednesday’s event drew much more media attention than Tuesday’s White House Partnership event, even though the Mayor was a speaker.

The editorial pages of the Chicago SunTimes and Chicago Tribune both had articles showing the high costs to society of young people dropping out of high school.

In the December 8 Chicago SunTimes, Alejandro Escalona wrote “I’ve covered Chicago as a reporter for almost 20 years and every now and then, a new study6 comes along that presents the dropout rate among minority students as an emergency situation with catastrophic consequences for minority communities.” Then he writes “So I find it refreshing that the latest report looks at the drain on city and state resources. Reducing the dropout rate would lower the costs of some enormously expensive social problems and, quite simply, be good for city and state finances.”

A star-studded cast of education and political leaders addressed the crowd on Wednesday at the Union League Club in Chicago. Here are some quotes:

Jesse Ruiz, Chair, Ill. State Council on Re-Enrolling Students Who Have Dropped Out.
“We know what we need to do. We just need a collective effort to do it.

Andrea Zopp, President & CEO Chicago Urban League
It’s not just the right thing to do. There is 20% difference in people going to jail between high school grads and youth who dropout. The cost per year to keep someone in prison is nearly $50,000 per person.

Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board President
The failure of our public school system feeds our prisons.” “The US has 5% of the world’s people and 25% of the world’s prison population. We’re doing something terribly wrong.”

Andrew Sum, Professor of Economics, Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern Illinois University …author of the research discussed on Tuesday and in media editorials.
Everything has gotten worse over past 25 years.” “You can no longer make it in Illinois without a high school diploma.” “We can’t have a strong democracy if we tolerate this problem”.

Gery Chico, Chair, Illinois State Board of Education
Kids tell us what the problem is. First is ‘No adults in my life to motivate me.’ “

Jean-Claude Brizard, Chicago Public Schools CEO, and a Panel of political leaders also spoke but I did not get quotes from them.

While the "Re-Enrolling Dropouts" event was Wednesday, on Tuesday an event at the UIC Forum attracted nearly 1000 guests, with Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel kicking off the event. It's goal was to show faith based and community organizations ways they can build partnership with the Federal Government.

Some quotes from Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Too many families are falling through the cracks….. Government cannot do it alone."

Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator, Small Business Administration was the noon keynote speaker. She said “We’re all given gifts and are responsible to use those gifts to build a better community.

As Alejandro Escalona wrote in the SunTimes, this is not new news. Even talking about the costs to society is not new news. Unless we find a way to build public willpower to build and sustain comprehensive, mentor-rich school-to-work programs in all neighborhoods with high drop out rates this story will repeat over and over in the coming years.

View the tags at the left to see the hundreds of articles I’ve written about these problems since 2005. Here are a couple:

On October 23, 2007 I wrote a summary of a Chicago Public Schools meeting led by Arne Duncan back in 2006 where he called for High Schools of Excellence…Consequences of Dropping Out of School in Illinois

In September 2005 I wrote a summary of an Illinois High School Summit hosted by the Illinois College Access Network and Chicago Public Schools. The discussion at the Summit was framed by the question, “What is the future vision and what must be achieved systematically for high schools to be successful in the 21st century?” During this Summit one man brought up issue of political will.

He said “Are the right people involved to make significant change? Are the people driving the process the ones in charge of crafting the solutions?

This question was not answered in 2005 and it's not yet been answered in 2011. I've been focusing on this problem for 20 years and I've shared my ideas with Gery Chico, Jesse Ruiz, the Alternative Schools Network, and the past CEOs of Chicago Public Schools and the Mayors of Chicago. They've been available on the internet since 1998.

Yet, I'm still just a whisper in the wilderness. Too few are taking the time to understand how maps and mentoring can be used to expand support for inner city youth and kids attending high school dropout factories.

Visit this blog over the coming weekend and see what I suggest is a strategy for building the public and political will needed to bring more resources into areas with high dropout schools so we can get the pipeline working for more kids.

1 comment:

Daniel Efosa Uyi said...

hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging here. this post reminded me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: How To Achieve Goals .
keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.