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"AT-RISK" STUDENTS


By R.C. Murray
January 6, 2008
NewsWithViews.com

One-third of all public school students currently in the 9th grade will not graduate high school on time, if at all (“Youth Who Drop Out: One-third of Those Who Enter High Schools Don’t Graduate”). To add to this statistic, another 10% who are pushed through The System and given [literally] a high school diploma will be functionally illiterate and unable to support themselves, even in those low wage jobs currently reserved by corporate sponsors for uninvited guest workers.

America’s high school dropouts and many of her high school graduates are facing a pretty bleak future, thanks to their lack of reading, writing and math skills. Really though, we’re all affected by illiteracy, for we’ve become a nation of unthinking, government-dependent proles.

About 85% of America’s children are essentially government property, thanks to the public school system. That’s about 50 million kids. With that figure in mind, consider the fact that 80% of Americans at least claim to be Christians. Most of these Christian parents can afford to homeschool or put their kids in a church-run, Christian school, but less than 14% do so. Most parents have become so government-dependent and blinded by public school propaganda that they don’t even consider a Christian education or the consequences for not choosing it.

Because they don’t read much of anything, much less the Bible, even Christians now lack the spiritual wisdom to understand the importance of biblical and academic knowledge, which increases opportunity and decreases government dependence. This is why 61.5 million Americans are dependent government for their education, employment, healthcare and retirement via local, state or federal jobs, including postal workers and the military [12 million], retired [35 million], the welfare system (a.k.a., welfare payments, subsidized housing, SSI, food stamps, etc.) [12 million] or prison [2.5 million]. That’s nearly half the US workforce [132.6 million]. Think about it a moment. These figures give a whole new meaning to “government of the people.”

Are you a product of the public school system? Yeah, me too; in ages past though – not the current system. Are you a veteran? Me too – and a disabled one at that. I earned my bachelor’s at a state-supported university and my associate’s at a state-supported community college. How about you?

I often wish I’d gotten a better education in my youth and maybe not gotten so busted up in the military. As far as school goes, I really didn’t have a lot of options. There were no Christian schools around in the 60’s, and nobody homeschooled their kids – except a few students who were kept out for some serious disease or injury. But as soon as they recovered, they were shoved back in The System with the rest of us. I really have no regrets about my military service – except that it’s over. Oh yeah, and the injuries. My military career is as much a part of my education as my college degrees.

Academia’s solution to the high school dropout problem is found in more labels. These scholars say it’s better for at-risk” students they’ve previously labeled as diverse learners to stay in school and remain stupid [a.k.a, willingly ignorant, dumb on purpose] than drop out of school and remain stupid. Either way, they remain stupid because the number of students graduating is far more important than whether those students have learned the core knowledge necessary to get them into a good college or help them find a good paying, honest job. Remember, real education increases opportunity, and opportunity reduces government dependence. The above statistics suggest someone wants to limit our education and subsequently our employment opportunities. Someone doesn’t want Americans to be independent.

Statistics tell us that students in large city schools are twice as likely to drop out of school without graduating. Hispanic students are twice as likely as African-American students to drop out although African-Americans represent the largest percentage of dropouts. More than half of students that drop out do so by the 10th grade [age 16]. About 20 percent were held back a grade, and half failed a course. Nearly half missed at least 10 days of school , a third skipped class 10 times and a quarter were tardy for school at least 10 times, 15 percent were expelled while 12 percent ran away from home [presumably, all in a given school year] (“Youth Who Drop Out: Warning Signs”).

The reasons [a.k.a, excuses] given for dropping out of school are varied. Some say they quit school because they simply didn’t like school, others because they were failing everything anyway. Some didn’t get along with their teachers, others their fellow students. Some were disciplinary problems, some because they didn’t feel safe in school [Hmmm. I wonder why?]. Some quit because of drug or alcohol abuse. Some quit because they got pregnant and some because they had a family to support (“Youth Who Drop Out: Reasons Why Youth Drop Out”). I suppose too, many students just quit because they’re bored with school, and they know – really, know – if they quit school, somehow, some way someone else will take care of them. This golden parachute needs to be deflated.

Regardless the excuse, the effect of dropping out of high school is almost always the same – Poverty. Sure, they can draw various types of government assistance and do little or nothing to receive it. At least, that’s what they think. But if the government is paying their way through life [with tax payers’ money], their lack of personal responsibility offers them few liberties and no independence, and they’re greatly limited in opportunities. Limited opportunity and low income creates friction and frustration, which quite often manifests itself in criminal activities, both to supplement their income and many times because they think they have no other options. But then, “at-risk” students are not known for their thinking skills.

Consider the fate of that high school dropout:

  • The high school dropout is twice as likely to receive some kind of government assistance/support [i.e., unemployment benefits, welfare, subsidized housing, food stamps, etc.].
  • Nearly half the heads of households on welfare are high school dropouts [and probably single mothers, many second or third generation, single mom-dropouts].
  • The high school dropout is nearly twice as likely to be unemployed as a high school graduate and three times more likely than a college graduate.
  • The high school dropout rarely has any health insurance though many have serious health issues, usually due to poor lifestyle choices [i.e., smoking, drinking, illegal drugs, poor nutrition, promiscuous and/or homosexual sex].
  • About 80% of U.S. prisoners are not high school graduates (“Understanding and Addressing the Issue of High School Dropout Age”).
  • Over his or her lifetime, the high school dropout could make as much as $1 million less than a college graduate. With a high school diploma, he could earn as much as $200,000 more over his lifetime (“Unemployment rates drop with additional education”).

One of the essays I used to require my 10th graders to write in order to prepare them for North Carolina’s Writing Assessment was a Cause & Effect essay. I would write the above statistics [collected from the Labor Board, Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Justice] on the dry-erase board then ask a simple question: “What is the Effect of dropout out of high school?” All my students had to do was write an introduction, put the above information in paragraph format then write a conclusion.

It was particularly helpful for 10th graders to see this information and be forced to think about it, for writing develops thinking skills. In most states, 16 is the minimum age a student can drop out of school with official government blessings, and statistics show that most high school dropouts leave school shortly after they turned 16. Even compulsory public school system has its loopholes.

Consider what it might do for the nation’s workforce if at-risk students were required to stay in school just two more years. Juvenal crimes would plummet. When my home was burglarized about two years ago, the investigating deputy explained the demographics of local criminal gangs. Despite the range in ethnicity, local gang members are pretty much all high school dropouts or soon-to-be dropouts, ages 16 to 19. These predators tour our homes at leisure while we’re at work, stealing and pawning whatever they can find.

But stealing isn’t all they do. One of my former students dropped out of school shortly after failing my English II class. A few months ago, he and his buds were breaking into a mobile home in Moore County, NC. Unfortunately, a 9-year old girl was home alone, out of school because she was sick. Her mother had stayed home with her the day before but had to go to work that day. My socio-economically disadvantaged, former student and his buds shot her death so she wouldn’t tell on them. He and his cohorts will be paroled decades before her family even begins to get over their loss.

Would it really have made any difference if my former student had not dropped out of school? Probably not. [See Classroom Management.] He is a by-product of The System, a genuine sociopath, if ever there was one. In order to get out of English, he came to class one day with a bunch of gravel rocks in his pocket, which threw at me, one at a time, whenever my back was turned. He knew that I’d eventually catch the rock-throwing culprit, and he’d be rewarded with a few days in ISS (in-school suspension), a place where he could sleep without all that noise associated with English classrooms. By the way, throwing rocks at teachers is not a serious enough offense to warrant OSS (out-of-school suspension). Students have to throw lead at the teacher to justify that.

But if this particular student been disciplined accordingly at home and from his first day in school and encouraged to learn rather than express himself, a little girl might still be alive. Waiting until the kid is in his or her mid-teens is simply too late to expect him to care about learning or alter his behavior. Labeling him as “at-risk” accomplished nothing! There is no easy solution, but I suggest three things that would help the dropout situation almost immediately:

  • Raise the minimum dropout age to 18.
  • Deny all government assistance to dropouts under age 21, and require dropouts over 21 to enroll in adult literacy classes to earn a high school diploma.
  • Deny parole to high school dropouts until they earn a high school diploma or serve out their prison sentence.

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America’s public school system is one system, and federal money is the glue that binds them together. We should use these federal dollars to implement the above suggestions. Do nothing and we can only expect the dropout problem to get even worse.

Works Cited:

1, “Understanding and Addressing the Issue of the High School Dropout Age.” Learning Point Associates. 2004. 9/20/04.
2, “Unemployment rate drops with additional education.” MLR: The Editor’s Desk. March 11, 1999. U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2000. 9/20/04.
3, “Youth Who Drop Out: One-third of Those Who Enter High Schools Don’t Graduate.” Focus Adolescent Services. 2005.


© 2008 - R.C. Murray - All Rights Reserved

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R.C. Murray is a disabled veteran and former public school teacher. He left a good job as a technical writer for a satellite manufacturer in order to teach high school English, only to immediately be told he could not expect, much less require his students to read their literature assignments. After four years of fighting The System and having a stroke then a mini-stroke, he decided he was safer in the airborne infantry and returned to being a technical writer for a military contractor.

He has also dedicated the rest of his life to exhorting parents about what’s really going on in their local public school, the one they think is a good school. R.C. Murray is the author of two books, Golden Knights: History of the U.S. Army Parachute Team and most recently, Legally STUPiD: Why Johnny doesn’t have to read.

Website: www.voicefromthepews.com

E-Mail: bakea3@aol.com


 

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America’s high school dropouts and many of her high school graduates are facing a pretty bleak future, thanks to their lack of reading, writing and math skills. Really though, we’re all affected by illiteracy, for we’ve become a nation of unthinking, government-dependent proles.