Study on Washington DC’s “drop-out” rate: “…Based on trends, a sobering 40 percent of today’s (DC) ninth-graders will not graduate in four years…”.Washington Post
I must admit that I was proud of that Ferguson MO. crowd the other night; who said to the police chief; your apology is too late, too little, and too insincere to matter. And even as this thought probably would not have made my hard-working childhood Sunday school teachers happy; as they constantly pushed the concept of Christian forgiveness; I confess, I found myself smiling at their righteous resistance to an insult. One of the reasons I push the art of reading so much, is because I was so struck by the words of Frederick Douglass as he explained in his autobiography, that the power of reading made one less accepting of (and acceptable for) the status of being a slave. But what if reading is not the problem; rather it is what you do about something, once you have read about it. That old saying: “If you want to hide something from some folks, just put it in a book”; does not apply here. Is reading (seeing) believing? And more important, does reading lead to some type of serious doing; to a state of “unacceptance” of a truce that compromises your present, and your future. In any case, this time it was placed, not in a book, but in a newspaper.
And of course the 40% does not include the middle school drop-outs, who are not counted (if counted at all) until their cohort reaches the 12th grade. The students who would show up statistically as “drop-outs”; except they have allegedly transferred to an out-of-state high school, GED or work program; the true “drop-out” number is probably north of 50%. In any industry a 50% product failure would demand a major recall effort; “a serious shake-up”, if for public relations sake only. If we also factor in that out of the alleged remaining 60%, a percentage of that group will “graduate” equipped with a below, or minimum standards based high school diploma; that will prepare them for no serous career option other than a store “check-out” job. We find that the situation is indeed sobering. Behind every number of the 40% is a face, a name, a person, a child we failed. And yet, as stunning as these numbers seem to be (and even printed in the paper that is strongly dedicated to maintaining the status qua in DC); I seriously doubt that this presentation will cause the parents and communities in which the 40% live, to rebel and erect the necessary political guillotines that would lead to the educational liberation of their children. I think the important factor here is that this outcome (40%), probably won’t be seen as a crisis. The truth is simply that some people in this world, have been determined to be more important than others. This educational loss, and the lost students it produces, should generate an urgent demand, serious concern, action, and a radical new direction. But the level of acceptance of pain and suffering, for some is high. And so that is why: the kidnaped Nigerian girls, the Ebola epidemical crises in West Africa; the easy, quick (murder) and/or slow (undereducated and unemployment) death of young Black men; does not raise to the level of a national crises; beyond “concern talk”. There are people and communities in this nation for whom 40% number would be unimaginable, let alone accepted; I know because I have talked to them. “Unacceptable” in their world goes beyond getting mad, talking bad, and issuing meaningless threats. No they are working with a different definition of unacceptable that says: “You will do this to my children, over my dead body kind of unacceptable”. But for those of us who don’t have the troops behind us, those of us who won’t pretend to be content, who find the acceptable unacceptable; we must just continue to fight for what is right and just.
I really hope that folks will act on this study: http://raisedc.net/images/arrow.jpg