6400 Borderland Students Dropped Out of School Last Year; Why Should You Care?
POSTED: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 2:47pm
UPDATED: Friday, August 12, 2011 - 11:53pm
EL PASO – Last year, 6400 students in the borderland dropped out of high school. Many people would say our education system is in crisis. So, why should you care? Experts say the success of our students is directly linked to the strength of our economy.
Eleven percent of El Pasoans don't have a job. Hector Palos, 28, is one of them.
“They won’t hire me and it’s...hard because I don’t have gas and sometimes they turn off my phone, so the applications that I do get to put in, sometimes I won’t tell if they call me because I don’t have a phone,” said Palos.
Palos has a background in welding, but no high school diploma. He said he dropped out as a freshman, in the late 90’s.
“I would go to class and fall asleep, like I was one of those careless teenagers,” stated Palos.
Almost 15 years later, dropping out of school is one of his biggest regrets.
“I would go back and I would do it right. I would listen, I would stay awake in class,” added Palos.
Many people are in Palos' situation.
“This, unfortunately, is something that we see across the country,” said Bob Wise, with the non-profit, Alliance for Excellent Education.
According to the organization, over one million students across the country drop out of school every year. Wise said that has a direct, negative impact on our economy.
“For a student who’s thinking about dropping out in Texas, there’s almost $9,000 difference a year in income by staying in school, and then if they get a two-year degree, it doubles to over $18,000,” stated Wise.
Mayor John Cook said he's very concerned about the dropout rate in El Paso. He's literally gone door-to-door, asking some kids to return to school.
Others believe the dropout rate is everyone's problem. Bob Wise said schools have to do a better job identifying students who are suffering academically.
“There’s immediate intervention...that you’re able to track that student and that you’re able to work with that student and intervene,” said Wise.
Canutillo High School principal, James Fry, is on board with that plan. However, he knows it’s a challenge.
“The hardest part is that we have 1,500 individual kids, with individual needs,” said Fry.
Fry said he’s made it a point to make sure all his students consider going to college, or a vocational school.
“100 percent of our kids graduating on the recommended plan took a college readiness exam. We got to 98 percent on the college applications,” stated Fry.
The high school principal admits that getting students ready for college often involves parents too, because many students at Canutillo high are the first in their family to pursue higher education.
“We have big community days and we invite their brothers, sisters, cousins….we’re educating the students while we educate the parents and the brothers and sisters are sitting right next to them, and so they’re all seeing how the pieces of the puzzle kind of come together,” explained Fry.
However, Hector Palos said he didn't have that opportunity. He didn't get a knock on his door. His family didn't speak to him about college. But, he hasn't lost hope.
“I'm trying to get a job...in a call center or restaurant, so I can go to school. I want to learn something like diesel mechanics or I'm trying to do computers,” said Palos.