Many Texas teenagers drop out of school every year. Although the drop out rates we hear are often exaggerated, retaining students is still a very large problem for many schools. Reasons for students dropping out are numerous and often complex. Solving this problem often gets confusing and sometimes even seems hopeless. However, the good news is that dropout rates have fallen over the years and continue to do so today. More Americans are receiving their high school diploma today than ever before. As early as 1970, only a little over seventy percent of the population finished four years of high school.
If I remember correctly, the figures today show that close to ninety percent are completing high school or an equivalent program. Many of the statistics we see do not take into account the number of students who drop out and later return. Furthermore, they do not relate people who art still in school, but did not graduate on time. Regardless of what the statistics bear out, students dropping out before completing high school is obviously still a problem that needs to be addressed. The problem is deciding what needs to be done.
In many situations, there is not much the school could do to prevent the student from dropping out. The number one cause of dropouts, especially among girls, is becoming pregnant. This is an issue for males a well. Often times they quit school to get married, or at least help support the child and mother. Some people quit school just because they would rather go ahead and start working. The students that I knew who dropped out in high school all seemed to have this common reason. They had no interest in going to college. They knew they would eventually wind up working the same job whether they finished high school or not.
My experiences with peers seem to go against the prevalent view of what a high school drop out is supposed to be. Most that I knew were average to good students. They were not on drugs, although they may have partaken in a little drinking once in a while. I can not remember any that were ever in any serious trouble with school officials or the police. They were just the normal everyday kid who just happened to get bored with school and decided they would rather be working and making money. I am in no way promoting the idea that it is all right for some students to drop out of school.
I am just simply saying that I do not think many people understand what triggers some people to drop out of school. When dropouts are discussed, many people seen to focus only on the repeatedly delinquent students. The focus is generally on people who are on drugs, in trouble with the authorities, and have an overall general disregard for themselves and others. This may very well be the case in some areas, but I have not been witness to it. Since many of the reasons for dropping out start in places outside the school, I am not sure what measures schools use to prevent this from happening.
There have been millions of government dollars put in to studying and preventing dropouts. These programs have had very little effect on the situation. I think the main causes stem from the home and surrounding environment. Many dropouts have at least one parent who did not graduate from high school. Some are in situations where neither parent graduated and many do not even live with their parents. This does little to foster an excitement of school and of bettering oneself through education. There are some things that can be done to help bring down the dropout rate.
Schools can continue to counsel at risk students and give them support where they may need it. Programs should be designed to show students the vast difference in salaries among dropouts, as compared to high school graduates and even college graduates. I believe the main concern lies within the family structure. Until society, as a whole, can strengthen family bonds, we will have to live with the fact that many students will continue to drop out of school. We can only hope that most of them will eventually decide to go back and get their GED and continue their education.