2006-03-30 / Opinions

Don't Fuss ... Let's Discuss

2005-2014: Social, economic, and political survival depends on 'No Child Left Behind' The African-American Community Forum
By ARTHUR W. DANNER

2005-2014: Social, economic, and political survival depends on 'No Child Left Behind'
The African-American Community Forum

There is another group of students that was not accounted for in last week's calculation of eligible graduating seniors. They are the dropout students before completing the standard four year period between the ninth and twelfth grade. They are classified as those students who left school between the ninth and twelfth grade for these reasons: marriage, expelled, job, incarcerated, military, pregnant and unknown. By eliminating this group of students from the graduation rate calculation, it allows for better graduation rate percentage favorable toward the ranking of the school system, but those dropout students will in fact impact the economy of the Wilkes community or elsewhere.

Those students who did not complete high school are likely to face problems in five major areas: reduced income, unemployment, barriers to future employment and educational opportunities, poverty and crime. For the purpose determining the negative economic impact on the economy of Wilkes County, the figures for students who dropped out and those for students who did not receive diplomas after studying for four years are combined in the table below to better assess their negative impact on the future social, economic and political viability of Wilkes County.

The student dropout numbers for Washington-Wilkes Comprehensive High School were taken from The Georgia County Guide of the University of Georgia, Athens; the numbers for earned diplomas (graduating seniors) and unearned diplomas (not graduating within four years) were taken from the Georgia Department of Education report. The table below for the school years 20012005 has 5 columns for each school year: column 1) number of ninth grade class four years earlier (base year) who would be expected to continue through to twelfth grade; column 2) number of the ninth graders who graduated and earned diploma within the four years; column 3) number of ninth graders who remained in school but failed to complete diploma requirements within four years; column 4) students who dropped out before completing grade 12 (dropouts 9-12) ; and column 5) combined percentage of students who did not complete graduation requirements within four year period and the dropouts before completing grade 12. This table information captures the real negative impact on the economy of Wilkes County of those students who did not earn high school diplomas.
                      9th grade             4 years           4 years         9-12       Students
2001-2002
                      class size           diploma     No diploma   Dropouts   No diploma
  Black                 106       34.... 32.1%             41           31         67.9%
  White                   90       58.... 64.4%             14           18         35.6%
  W-WCHS           196       92.... 46.9%             55           49         53.1%
2002-2003
  Black                 104       50.... 48.1%             37           17         51.9%
  White                   68       46.... 67.6%             14             8         32.4%
  W-WCHS           172       96.... 55.8%             51           25         44.2%
2003-2004
  Black                   81       37.... 45.7%             29           15         54.3%
  White                   77       45.... 58.4%             17           15         41.6%
  W-WCHS           158       82.... 51.9%             46           30         48.1%
2004-2005
  Black                   62       38.... 61.3%             20             4         38.7%
  White                   64       49.... 76.7%             12             3         23.4%
  W-WCHS           126       87....... 69%             32             7         31.0%

When we account for the dropout students together with the students who did not graduate within the four year period, a more realistic impact on the economy of Wilkes County can be ascertained. African-American 4 year average changes from 41.8% to 53.2%; White-American changes from 21.9% to 33.2%, the high school changes from 33.9% to 44.1%. These differences of 11.4%, 11.3% and 10.2% respectively when projected over a period of 35 years or more do have a significantly impact on the economy of Wilkes County.

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