Letters to the Editor

Dropout issue

October 9, 2009


To the editor:

In the Oct. 4 J-W editorial regarding the dropout challenges facing our public schools, you explored the questions of how many dropouts we have; I hope you are equally curious about why kids are slipping through the cracks of our public schools.

As is true of most of the state, students drop out of the Lawrence public school system. At the same time, other students in the same school systems do well. There are reasons aside from classroom instruction that keep some children from achieving in school.

Providing services that effectively address those reasons is imperative. Those services range from in-depth tutoring to mentoring programs designed to give a child a one-on-one relationship with a strong adult role model to health care or nutrition assistance to get children ready to learn. While the Communities In Schools research-based approach of working with schools to provide tailored support for the needs of individual students has been recognized as uniquely effective at having an impact on outcomes for the whole school, we are not alone in providing effective services.

Reversing the dropout trend is critically important. Dropouts dominate the social service programs taxpayers finance. Kansas continually faces a shortage of adequately educated, skilled workers. Our prison population is dominated by dropouts. The costs to society and the individual are great.

Our state’s first Dropout Prevention Summit will take place Oct. 20 in Wichita. I urge anyone interested in exploring solutions to the dropout issue to attend. More information can be found at www.kansasdropins.org.


George Lippencott 7 years ago

Is there not some responsibility on the part of the dropout to not drop out? I am sympathetic to some of your issues but you know there are many kids that persevere in the face of such adversity. Should we reward them by subsidizing their peers who do not? How do you sort? Where is the line!

KSManimal 7 years ago

Moderate - Yes, there should be responsibility on the dropout NOT to dropout. While it's understandable you wouldn't want to subsidize those who aren't pulling their weight, the truth is we (taxpayers) WILL pay more for those folks one way or another.

We can either pay up front, and maybe help them turn their lives around to become productive, contributing citizens; OR, we can watch them fail, make the excuse that it's their own fault, and then pay for their room and board for many years to come (ie - lock 'em up).

SettingTheRecordStraight 7 years ago


What are we to make of increasing expenditures on dropout prevention while experiencing a spike in dropout rates? I'm all for investing in our kids, but when program leaders such as Ms. Martin-Wilke call for more and more taxpayer outlays while not even mentioning parents in her letter to the editor, we've got a serious problem.

These two issues (calls for more money and no mention of the family) are a big part of why responsible citizens are skeptical of government programs.

KSManimal 7 years ago


You're right - family (or lack thereof) is a major (perhaps THE) factor in increasing dropout rates. My point was simply that IF and WHEN kids drop out...we'll pay MORE later than we would have paid on programs/services that might have prevented them dropping out to begin with.

Also, lets be careful how we define "increasing dropout rate". If you look at per capita graduation rate....that number has gone up dramatically over the past 25 - 50 years. At the same time the "drop out" rate has gone up.... Back in the old days, "dropouts" likely left school after 8th grade and thus weren't counted as "dropouts". Now, we keep 'em in school a few years longer- a good thing, really - but some still don't finish . This creates misleading statistics, re - "dropout rate".

randysavage 7 years ago

Kids don't want to wake up @ 8a.m. and go to school all day?? Huge shocker....obviously, these kids live in the 'here-and-now' and couldn't give two licks about their future.

The parents of these drop outs are bums themselves....no self-respecting adult would allow their child to drop out of school. This kind of thing is a direct reflection of the lack of parenting many at-risk children are victims of.

George Lippencott 7 years ago

KSManimal (Anonymous) says…

That is the same argument made for PL94-142. While I am aware of successes, I am also aware of many failures, as the program has been expanded to many who will never be able to hold a "market generated" job. More money does not mean more success. Many of the children that have migrated to our "help" programs are there because the parents do not want them. No amount of our money can fix that if we leave the kid with an uncaring parent. I know bigger social problem.

Before we throw more taxpayer money, why don't we do the homework to define the criteria on the parents and the kid? If they do not comply, they get no money and we deal with the consequences (which will be the same if they are not committed to the program). Faith based organizations use this strategy, why can the rest of us not apply it to public funding. .

Ricky_Vaughn 7 years ago

I hated school like many kids do. My mom was always all over me about school. I graduated from high school and from college.

Thanks, mom.

RKLOG 7 years ago

I agree with donald_gilchrist. I came very close to dropping out 30 years ago in high school. I was talked out of it. From my experience, and from the experience of my peers back then, if life was simply about going to high school and doing the work, there would be less dropouts, I guarantee. But being a teen involves many problems. Problems with family life, with jobs, and friends, and any mental instability added in the mix, become key for many (me included) about what life is suddenly all about, and making it through high school during these problematic times seems the least of your priorities. Especially with the knowledge that if a dropout wants to go to college later, or learn a trade, a GED will suffice.

Remember that these teens are still developing mentally and are still learning about life. They will not always be able to make the right decisions. Sometimes the choice to stay in school is purely a random one, and sometimes a teen will be lucky enough to have a good mentor (like I did) that helps he/she with their crisis. And bad decisions are frequently passed on from generation to generation. Think about some of the things our parents advised us about years ago that turned out to be completely wrong.

I can't make it to this summit but hopefully a few of the readers here will be able to attend.

denak 7 years ago

I have a good friend who dropped out of school in 9th grade. She lived in Chicago and in order to get to her school, she had to walk through "gang territory." She was so afraid that she quit school rather than do that. Her parents eventually moved out of that area and moved to Desoto. Unfortunately, she never went back to school and it is something she has always regretted. Now, I think she is just to insecure to go back to school and get her GED. That is her decision as an adult. However, she really didn't have a choice when she was a child. Sometimes the reasons kids drop out of school aren't easily remedied. It isn't always as simple as the kid doesn't want to go to school or the parents are lazy. That is why I am happy to see this program. Maybe had it been around when she was in the 9th grade, she would have stayed in school.


Loretta James 7 years ago

Put some of the blame on teachers I had a grandson who was threatned by a kid who said he would kill him and they did nothing. But my grandson was supended for 3 days for telling the kid if he didn't stop picking on him he would hurt him. A lot of things are the same as when I was in school. Expensive clother and rich parents gets you a lot.


Commenting has been disabled for this item.