I recently came across this article that mentions that Phoenix has the fourth highest high school dropout rate in the country. Nearly 25% of Phoenix area students drop out of school and never graduate.
The estimated economic consequences for Arizona are staggering–$7.6 billion over the dropouts’ lifetimes–in lost wages, health and welfare costs, and crime-related expenses. In working with Aim Right, I’ve observed two situations that often contribute to a student dropping out:
1) Pregnancy – Caring for a baby and going to school are both full-time jobs, and unless there’s a great family support system around the teenager, finishing school becomes a low priority.
2) Falling Behind / Held Back – Many areas of Phoenix are highly transitional; families rent and move frequently. If a child changes schools often, that can lead to missed days and cycles of catching up and falling behind. Being 18 years old with only enough credits to be at a sophomore level just isn’t “cool,”and the student drops out.
When students drops out, I’m sure it appears to be the thing that will make their lives easier at the moment; the sad reality is that they’ve made a decision that will make successive years of their lives a lot harder — especially if they need to find a job that provides a living wage.
You can Google dropout prevention and find multiple lists of strategies. But perhaps what this Atlanta church is doing could be duplicated across the country and make a huge difference — one child and one mentor at a time.