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Why Students Drop Out or are Pushed Out

A quick review of studies and polls reveals two repeating themes in discussions about drop out rates among Black students and other students of color:

Parents and the community cite problems at school:

  • Unfair discipline, with Black boys hit hard by suspensions/expulsions
  • Unwelcoming schools that force out "problem" students and families
  • Inequitable distribution of resources, including money and skilled teachers
  • Teacher bias, manifest in lower expectations and labeling of students
  • Impersonal instruction that bores students and ignores learning styles

Sources: "NAACP Call for Action in Education," pages 15 and 16 and "Closing the Achievement Gap" published by OSPI in November 2002 (Get PDF Reader)

Teachers and adults in the system cite problems at home:

  • Challenging personal circumstances at home
  • Poor attendance, truancy, and behavioral problems among students
  • Family poverty and limited parental education
  • A poor learning environment at home with too much TV time
  • Lack of parental involvement

Source: DRAFT "OSPI Public School Dropout Initiative White Paper for Washington State," published October 27, 2006

Obviously, there are valid concerns on all sides. Schools must become more welcoming, learn to partner with families and community, and resources must be distributed more equitably. Teacher bias must be addressed and instruction must be more personalized.

Meanwhile, the Black community can and must continue working on the home front to support students. The Commission is partnering with other groups to secure money for a parent empowerment demonstration to help families advocate for their children and support their learning. More on Parent Empowerment