Finding a solution together

Published 9:39 pm Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It’s a tragic thing when a high school student convinces himself (or herself) that they do not need a high school diploma to succeed — especially when the student is within arm’s reach of graduating.

A total of 133 students had dropped out of Chilton County schools by October 2008, Maplesville Principal Maggie Hicks reported Tuesday during a dropout prevention meeting.

The Alabama Department of Education enlisted an expert on the issue, Dr. Robert Balfanz, to host a video conference for several locations around the state. Chilton County High School was the local host site, and Hicks facilitated the meeting.

Balfanz pointed out several potential reasons why high school students decide to drop out, such as life events. Many are influenced by their parents or siblings, who do not place a high value on high school education. Most students who think they will be better served by dropping out, however, end up regretting the decision.

The community must band together to find a solution, but simply having data to work with is not enough. After identifying the problem, we must dig and find the real reasons students are dropping out. When those reasons are identified, educators must work with people in other sectors of the community to find a solution.

In attendance at Tuesday’s meeting were pastors, medical personnel, counselors, law enforcement officers and others. Everyone can do their part to make Chilton County a better place to live, and coming to the realization that each part of the community affects the entire community is one step toward accomplishing that.

Like Balfanz said, a solution will not come overnight. This is not one of those problems that can be solved easily, but something must be done because the number of dropouts in the state is disturbing.

It takes more than educators to make students — and entire families — realize the value of their education and the resources that are available to them.