Tuesday, June 19, 2007

It Breaks Your Heart to Read: “The Regrets of a School Dropout”

"It was like it wasn't a big deal to anybody, so it wasn't a big deal to me," he said. Because there were no consequences, quitting was easy.”

This is a quote from Larue Campbell who was feeling profound loss as he visited Largo High School, where he dropped out a several years ago.

In my May 7th Blog article, I wrote about the importance of developing a “Don’t Give Up Attitude” for students who are disenfranchised. Yet, I felt compelled to revisit the topic and share this article with you in this season of graduation celebrations.

Avis Thomas-Lester, a Washington Post Staff Writer (Friday, June 15, 2007; Page B01), gives us a clear glimpse into Larue’s world. This is also the world of thousands of our nations students pondering dropping outs.

Thomas-Lester says, “In dropping out, Campbell became part of a disturbing trend -- black male students who walk out on their own education. Statistics show that more than 50 percent of black male students fail to graduate with their class each year. In some urban jurisdictions such as New York and Chicago, upwards of two-thirds of them leave high school before graduation, according to a study by the Schott Foundation for Public Education.”

Larue spent his high school years living first with his grandmother then in his aunt’s home, where he now spends time studying for his GED. As we hear his words we can see how long his road was.

“When I started hooking, my grandmother got mad," he said. "She went up to my school and told them, 'He don't want to be here. He lives in Maryland, anyway.' They put me out."

After reading the article, Ask Yourself:
When is it early enough to start looking for signs of alienation?

I believe, as does Alvin Thornton of Howard University, that something called the “forth grade syndrome” could be one (one of many) important place to focus a “don’t give up strategy”. Elementary educators are familiar with this critical time, when boys can become lost and alienated. As the elementary curriculum moves from “learning to read”, in grades kindergarten through third grade… to “reading to learn” in forth grade, reading and comprehension problems become evident. With out the ability to “read to learn” on their own textbooks are useless.

Ask Yourself:
Are our boys, entering fourth grade in the fall able to “read to learn” on their own?


Monday, June 04, 2007

A New Opportunity to Act

ASCD has launched a new public engagement and advocacy campaign and we want you to be a part of it. WholeChildEducation.org is a Web site that calls on parents, educators, policymakers, and communities to join forces to ensure our children become productive, engaged citizens. I believe this is an opportunity for each of us to make a difference in how schools and communities work together to ensure each student has access to a challenging curriculum in a healthy and supportive climate.

You can visit their Web site to find out how well your school and community are doing with our Grade Your School and Community tool. You can also share what's working and what's not working in your school in our Share Your Story section. Find materials to share with your friends and neighbors in the Resource Clearinghouse. ASCD 's Policy Blackboard highlights policymakers who are speaking up for the whole child and fighting for change. But they need your help: as caring educators I believe it is important to Spread the Word about these efforts.

ASCD believes children deserve an education that emphasizes academic rigor as well as the essential 21st-century skills of critical thinking and creativity.

You may wish to pass this on to other colleagues or interested community members.

Ask Yourself:

Am I doing all I gan to educate the whole child in my classroom or school?
How can I do more?

» Visit WholeChildEducation.org today.