In many ways public education has helped shape the nation in which we live. For most of us, had it not been for our initial public education we would not be where we are today. Education today is not the same as most of us remember. Current economic and social issues have had a drastic impact on the system; so much so public education has been placed on the backburner of our state’s political budget. We are now under a system that is failing not only the student’s but the state’s economic future as well. As we all know the days of being able to leave high school and enter a prosperous workforce are but a figment of the past. How can we build an economic future with an uneducated or mis-educated population? The negative effects of budget cuts are numerous and long lasting, but we cannot allow these tactics to hold us hostage.
The Flint Public School District has made many strides in the last year in terms of curbing the dropout rate and graduating seniors. According to the Michigan (CEPI) “Center for Educational Performance and Information” last year the city of Flint saw the “on time” graduation rate increase to 52.64% and the dropout rate decrease to just 19.55%, a significant gain from the 30.44% dropout rate that existed in 2008. These gains show that the efforts of the school district in terms of graduation are making great progress, but where the system fails is what happens to these same students after they walk across the stage. According to another CEPI study titled “Student Performance against ACT College Readiness Benchmarks” only 2.3% of Flint students that took the ACT actually passed the test. These statistics were based on 514 students that took the test during the 2010-2011 school year. Another (CEPI) report “Remedial Coursework Report For Enrollees in Michigan Public Institutions of Higher Education” shows that 56.86% of all students that graduated from Flint high schools and went to a public college had to take remedial courses their first year of college. So while gains were made in the graduation rate it appears that adequate college preparatory education has suffered.
The fact is, not everyone is going to go to college, and however those that do aspire for a higher education need to be prepared for that challenge. Students should be able to go to college and not have to waste time and tuition on course curriculum they should have learned while in high school. In our current economic climate school districts are forced to meet “No Child Left Behind” guidelines as well as be able to do “more with less”. These factors have left our students and our state’s economy high and dry, not to mention the stressors these issues place on teachers and administrators in our districts. There are remedies to these issues that could potentially help solve some of the problems. First, we must begin to adopt a college preparatory curriculum that will allow those who want to pursue college the ability to pass the ACT exam as well as avoid costly and timely remedial courses. Next, we must adopt during or after school programming that will help in the socialization of students and gear them towards college or career preparation. Such programming can aid in the betterment of our students as well as prepare them for life after high school, which will in turn create a positive change for our communities as a whole. One organization that has a program that could fit this mold is The Hope Initiative Party’s “Rites of Passage Program”. For more information feel free to contact Granton Brooks at Grantonbrooks@yahoo.com. We must seriously weigh our options in terms of our student’s futures or continue down the path of economic ruin.