Article Comment 

Our opinion: State's dropout rate a tough problem to solve




Maybe you can do the math. 


State Superintendent of Education Tom Burnham, who was drawing attention to Mississippi''s school-dropout problem, put forth an alarming statistic: Nationwide, 72 percent of dropouts end up either in prison or on government assistance. 


A few more numbers for this equation: 5,000 students will fail to graduate in Mississippi this year. 


The state has a 16.8 percent dropout rate. Locally, the problem is much worse. The Columbus Municipal School District had a 22-percent dropout rate in 2009, according to the Kids Count database. So, more than one in five students in the system won''t make it through 12th grade. Lowndes'' rate of 13.3 percent beats the state average, but is still unacceptable. 


Compounding this difficult problem: state budget cutbacks. Money for programs combating the state''s high dropout rate have dried up. 


Despite budget cutbacks, and to its credit, the Columbus district has been hard at work to solve this problem. Columbus High''s Freshman Academy gives ninth-graders tools to transition into life in high school. The International Baccalaureate program gives CHS students a quality education to strive for. 


Without state funding, however, more programs desperately needed at schools like Columbus High won''t be available in the future. 


State funding can''t solve our dropout problem alone, however -- it''s only one piece of the formula. The community needs to support its schools. Students need to feel they have a safe, nurturing environment in which to learn. And, kids need help and support at home. 


All these add up to a successful education for our children. Take one factor out of this equation, and you can''t solve the problem.



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Reader Comments

Article Comment bigmontana commented at 3/25/2011 10:06:00 AM:

Kids need the support at home. Parents need to take an active interest in their childrens education, both in and out of the classroom. I hear too many complaints around here that the schools in MS are some of the worst in the nation! Schools can only do so much, the rest of the childrens education needs to come from parents who care!


Article Comment frank commented at 3/25/2011 12:58:00 PM:

In order to hold a state driver's license before the age of 18 a juvenile must be enrolled in school and maintain a 'C' average. Drop out of school and you lose the license.

Easy to enforce with modern data systems.

Pass that law and your dropout rate would fall dramatically while the average GPA would improve.


Article Comment ckirby commented at 3/26/2011 10:47:00 AM:

State funding, local and state taxes, more, more, more. That message is not only tried, found lacking and patently untrue, it's been beat to death in the pages of the Dispatch for years.
What million dollar project, dreamed up by local school administrators and backed by the Dispatch, hasn't eventually been passed and been billed to the taxpayers? The $5 million stadium, the $10 million remodeling of the high school, the $22 million new middle school. And the other schemes like magnet schools, IB programs, alternative school, summer mentoring and tutoring by volunteers.
What's been the increase in test scores or passing rates? How has any of this resulted in lower dropout rates? Why can't we see something in print that directly ties some certifiable gains to these huge expenditures in money and effort? Is it because there is no comparable increase that can be documented?
I disagree with the Dispatch and Mr. Imes in that I don't believe money, taxes from hard working people, is the answer to the education problem in this state. If you actually believe that Mr. Imes, since you have more money than God, how many programs do you or your family personally fund in our local schools, programs that have yielded verifiable results in these problem areas you say money will solve? That would be a legitimate news story and something you could use to bolster your constant claim that more tax money will solve every social problem.
In all of these programs, schemes and allotments of millions, where has the concept of parental responsibility been mentioned? As far back as the proverbial one room school house, the quality of an education is not dependent on the trappings. Smartboards, surveillance cameras, computers, teleconferencing, food courts, marble and stained glass are attractive but students can leave such a monument of academic splendor as ignorant as they arrived without the one factor the Dispatch steadfastly refuses to acknowledge and report on. The parent factor. That one piece of the process alone can make the difference between a successful education, be it in a one room school house or a $22 million Taj Mahal.


Article Comment renee comments commented at 3/26/2011 3:43:00 PM:

2011 Pilgrimage visit historical building designed without mechanical/electrical airconditioning. Visitors also welcomed in middle school. Parents believe what is best for their children.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 3/27/2011 6:56:00 AM:

Ok, lets not beat around the bush on it. We all know who is doing the dropping out, and we all know where we'll see them next after that: the Packet.

And if you think hooking High School to a drivers license is going to fix anything you apparently don't see all the arrests for driving on a suspended license in the local papers. They don't have a license, but yet they drive. They don't have insurance either, but yet they drive. Their parents are almost as useless as they are so you can't count on them for much.

But you know, we're suppose to make allowances. Maybe we could drop the school standards so that all you have to do is show up and you'll get straight A's? And we could get the local unemployed to carry them like a baby from class to class so they wouldn't have to wear out their tennis shoes walking?


Article Comment frank commented at 3/27/2011 11:22:00 AM:

Ah, the defeatist approach...


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 3/28/2011 6:55:00 AM:

No Frankie, it's more like the tired of hearing the excuses and watching the candyazz'd locals running around trying to cover for them.


Article Comment frank commented at 3/28/2011 8:15:00 AM:

Okay then Rosco, no excuses, what is your serious solution to the drop out problem?


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 3/30/2011 8:19:00 AM:

The solution is in the home. You make Jr. get that butt out of bed, get to school, and bring home something worth looking at grade-wise. And if Jr. won't, then you start stripping away everything near and dear to him/her until they get it.

And if Mom/Dad won't step up and raise their child, you put Mom/Dad in the pokey until they get it. Get it?

But what you don't do is allow the tail to wag the dog, or make excuses for them, or coddle them, or pass them along just because they are now too big for the desk, or any of the other excuse making nonsense you see today.

Let me explain something to you dude. There are children who really can't learn. Ok, I'll accept that, sorta. But it is all about the effort put forth, and I'm just not seeing efforts made here. I dropped out of high school myself, and I had my reasons which I won't bore you with, but lets just say there were no support systems in place for what I was living through and let it go at that.

Years later, I went to college having dropped out of high school and I went in there thinking this was going to be a mission impossible, and it was tough. But I came out the other side with a degree and a 3.92 GPA and I did it the old fashioned way: I put the time and effort into it. Had I done so in high school, who knows what might have happened?

The dropouts aren't making a serious effort, and no one is holding them to it. There's your solution: now get out of my office.


Article Comment roscoe p. coltrain commented at 3/30/2011 8:22:00 AM:

And did you ever stop to think how hard it is to walk out a door where no door exists? Chew on that one awhile.


Article Comment frank commented at 3/30/2011 10:35:00 AM:

That's very good Rosco but those turancy laws are already on the books and the pokey is overflowing now with each prisoner costing you around $10,000.00 a year to feed. The state is already broke and locking up more deadbeat parents is not going to do the kids any good.

Your "solution" is nothing new. The state has had no success legislating good parenting and the enforcement of current truancy laws is almost impossible and very expensive. It is the same old same old.

I think we need to look at laws like the one I suggested earlier that give the children incentives to stay in school. As you pointed out, the driver's license law isn't perfect but at least those tickets for driving without a license and insurance bring money IN to the taxpayers. It is certainly worth a try because the same old same old approach is a proven failure.


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