Fixing the dropout rate should be a local priority

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Dropping out of school is never a good idea. Even though some of us lamented the fact that school was part of our regular schedule, and celebrated each time summer vacation rolled around.

Attending class may have seemed like a burden on what could have been perfectly good day playing outside or riding bikes with friends. Instead, children are stuck looking at books and doing their best to keep from taking a nap at their desk in order to avoid a trip to the principal’s office.

Many students may look forward to a day when they can either graduate, or reach an age where they can legally drop out of school.

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But dropping out of the first 12 years of school could potentially be the worst decision a young person makes.

It’s not a hard and fast rule though. Many people who dropped out later went on to develop a successful business. But, the odds are against anyone who does make the decision to leave high school before receiving their diploma.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, the unemployment rate for a person that did not finish high school averaged 7.4 percent, compared to those with a diploma at 5.2 percent. The ability to make more per week is also hindered. High school graduates on average made almost $200 more per week than a dropout in 2016.

These statistics should be even more alarming when we look at the drop out rates for some of the local school districts.

While Poplarville reflects the largest graduation rate at 90 percent according to data released by the Mississippi Department of Education, Picayune’s drop out rate is cause for concern. That data states only 71 percent of the students within the Picayune School District graduated last year. Pearl River County School District was ranked in between with a 84.1 percent graduation rate.

If Pearl River County residents want the best for their children, we need to find the cause of so many students deciding to leave high school before graduation, and address the problem before it gets worse.