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Archive for Sunday, November 8, 2009

LHS students offer teens’ view on dropout problem

November 8, 2009

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Recent news stories and an editorial about the local high school dropout rate spurred lively discussion in two U.S. government classes taught by Tim Latham at Lawrence High School. The issue prompted a writing assignment asking students what they thought about the dropout problem and how it might be solved.

Several papers make the point that in order to address the problem, the community needs to understand the issue from the students’ point of view. To help promote that understanding we offer some excerpts from the papers written by LHS seniors. The full essays by these students and a several others are available at www.ljworld.com.

“One of the main reasons for people dropping out of school is not what most people think. It is because of family problems. When people think of a young adult dropping out they automatically think of low grades and problems with wealth. In many cases this is not the reason. For many students dropping out is a family issue. There are many examples. One of the most common one is a family problem taken out of control so that the student is forced to leave the house because of issues between the family members. I have known many people who were extremely happy where they were in school but because of something that happened in their family they were forced to leave the house and move in with another family member or friend. In many cases the student continued school in their new location, but in some cases the student quit all together.”

Natalie Lassman

“Though thousands of reasons may contribute to a student’s decision to drop out of high school, three main facts can be pinpointed as the largest problems. First of all, many students suffer from learning disabilities, and simply cannot apply themselves to their full potential in a school setting. Secondly, many students come from households where education is not the number one priority; it becomes unimportant and sidelined. Finally, many students put in their hours at a job, and find schoolwork as an obstacle between them making money.”

Lucy Daldorph

“No matter how much of an individual they claim to be, teenagers are, at their core, impressionable people. If all their friends put no effort into their work at school or plan on dropping out, they will be much more likely to do the same. The consequences down the road are not usually included in this decision; they probably are most concerned about losing friends by going against the grain.”

Morgan Mills

“Budget cuts also play a major role in inspiring dropouts. When a school’s budget shrinks, the first programs to go are those like art, music, theater, debate, foreign language, and forensics. These are cut because those who oversee the budget cuts see no direct educational benefit in them. Students who do not possess a love of reading, writing, and arithmetic often find their passion lies in the programs most likely to be cut. I, for example, would rather not reveal how many times I have lain in bed and given serious thought to skipping school. The single factor that could pull me away from my Tempur-Pedic pillow is that I do not want to miss another choir rehearsal, day of drawing, or debate discussion.”

Jordan Payne

“In all honesty I don’t really think there is anything anyone can do to keep kids in school. There are always going to be dropouts. I think once the economy is more stable again people might stay in school. I think this is because if kids see that the economy is this bad they think they are not going to get a job no matter what because it is so bad. So they give up on going to college or even finishing high school.”

Christian Delg

“To stop students from dropping out the first thing that needs to happen is that these community leaders and educators responsible for the curriculum in Lawrence High need to reach out to the groups of students who are actually doing the dropping out. The participants in this summit came up with solutions to reduce the dropout rate such as increasing opportunities for real world learning and giving students the chance to volunteer and get involved in the community. These are great ideas but the members of this committee need to understand who the students are that they are trying to reach.”

Wade Briscoe

“All of the ‘old school’ ways of studying from a textbook, filling out a worksheet, or creating a power point used to work, but now they are not efficient ways of learning in this modern world. Modern students want hands-on activities. They want to know why they are doing what they are doing and how it is actually going to help them or influence them in the future, or it is just not worth learning and wasting their time. From this standpoint students want to take courses that are based on a major. Teachers tell us when we are young that we do not yet know what we want to be when we grow up and will change our minds a million times between now and when we graduate but that is also something from the past. People of the new generations tend to figure out what they like to do and base what they want to do with their future off of that thought.”

Scott Brenn

“Families tend not to be as close in this day in age than in the days of low dropout rates. Many times parents don’t even know that their student has or is thinking of dropping out because they do not communicate with them about their everyday lives. If parents were more involved in a student’s life, and gave them legitimate reasons to stay in school, instead of telling them they have to stay in school and never really being a part of their lives.”

Lacey Hunsinger

“A student who wants to drop out is going to drop out no matter what he or she is told. How do teachers and administrators stop this from happening? Is it possible? It seems like it comes down to the student’s decision. A lot depends on the student’s personality, maturity, responsibility, and work ethic. It’s not always possible to reach out to a student who completely refuses to listen, follow directions, or is unmotivated. If a student chooses not to do the assigned class work, it isn’t the teacher’s fault if they fail the class or drop out of school even though much of the time they are blamed.”

Derrick Weishaar

“Counselors should play a more active role in the students’ high school careers than just a person to send colleges the students’ transcripts and the occasional schedule change. Counselors can do this by visiting with students and making sure their schedule fits their needs for both graduation and their lives outside of school. Right now the only person students can rely on who will sit down and discuss life problems and help better the situations are the prevention specialists and even they were perilously close to being let go due to budget cuts.”

Molly Fister

“Probably the biggest and saddest reason for this increase in dropouts is a lack of motivation from the parents. If a kid has a parent that doesn’t care at all about school or how they do, then the kid will never achieve anything. Without any help or motivation, the kid is just going to quit and nobody will be there to tell him otherwise.”

Dom Reiske

“The high school format can be improved in some areas, but the one issue the government cannot control is the motivation from parents. If parents are not in constant communication with the school to know how their child is performing, then the child will recognize and drift off into other non-school related activities.”

Landri James

"Teenagers become bored very easily, so the teachers need to keep the students entertained because without entertainment, school could become very boring. Bullies are not a huge problem at Lawrence High, but there are a few. If students are being bullied, then they’re going to be worried about what is going to happen at school tomorrow or even next week. Most likely, they’re not going to want to stay in school just to be bullied everyday."

Krystle Iden

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