We must close the gap

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A recent study released by the Center for Social Organization of Schools at John Hopkins University depicted Vincent Middle/High School as an assembly line of education that brings students down the conveyor belt, only to fall off before they are packaged up and sent out with a diploma of approval.

Principal Gary Minnick and the Shelby County Board of Education argue the term &8220;dropout factory,&8221; used by the study, is harsh and doesn&8217;t factor in all of the variables that determine school completion.

They sight parents&8217; education, poverty levels, special education and occupational diplomas and court ordered transfers as factors in their 76 percent graduation rate.

John Hopkins&8217;s researchers admit they are making an austere statement of school performance but that the educational climate of America is so, that a student from an under-privileged area is liable to get a raw deal, because of the economic state of an area.

There is no doubt the odds are stacked against schools like Vincent, where a larger percentage of their students receive free and reduced lunch than study basic engineering in the classroom, but when do we finally get angry enough at the breadth of this gap that we do something about it?

Vincent Middle/High faculty are working diligently

to make improvements and help students one by one, but their efforts alone may not be enough.

There needs to be a collective effort of the community to raise the bar to a level where it is unacceptable for any student to fail to reach graduation. It&8217;s time for someone, anyone, to step in with a solution for improving the learning environment of all students.

These kids cannot help the location or socio-economic class they were born into, but the community can provide them with the same educational opportunities as students 20 miles down the road.