Students, stick it out

Published 5:27 pm Friday, September 4, 2009

Suffolk children head back to school Tuesday for yet another school year, and in doing so they may need to take stock of their classmates, because, if recent trends continue, one out of every five of their classmates will drop out of school and fail to complete their high school education.

It is a staggering statistic in Suffolk, which had an 18.6 percent overall dropout rate in 2008 and where a portion of the student body had dropout rates higher than 20 percent. The numbers have shown little improvement in recent years, and there is little reason to believe they will improve anytime soon.

It is a shame that so many students come to the thoughtful decision of quitting their education for one reason or another. With the economics of today’s society, it is getting harder and harder to find a job. Imagine doing so without a quality education. Imagine telling a potential employer that you quit school.

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The dropout rate is an embarrassment that must receive immediate and dramatic attention from our leaders. There must be hard-felt consequences to dropping out of school, making the decision much harder to make.

We know that our education leaders are aware of this problem and have put programs in place to address it, but are those programs working? Are we seeing students stepping back from the brink of quitting and staying in school?

With a problem such as this, we cannot lead our education leaders stand alone in finding a solution. We must all help. We must all contribute to finding a solution. Society must put pressure on children to complete their education, to push through any challenges to receive their high school diplomas.

The earnings potential for a student who dropped out of school is significantly lower than for those who complete at least their high school education.

Today, we present a challenge to those students who may question their ability to receive a diploma. We ask that you work hard, that you don’t quit and that you overcome any excuse to give up.