Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Graduation Rates

                    The United Way of Anchorage released its 2011 Action Report on Education   and indicated that it is expanding its vision for Anchorage.  United Way of Anchorage has long been the "umbrella organization and fundraiser" for many service agencies in our community and has done much to meet immediate needs such as food, shelter, and emergency assistance.  In addition to continuing to meet emergency needs, United Way of Anchorage wants to make some lasting changes - changes that will reduce or eliminate emergency needs.

                    This idea is a basic welfare principle.  When the community is stronger, healthier, and safer, there is less need for emergency assistance.  When more people live the principles of self-reliance - such as gaining more education, increasing income, taking care of physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual health - they are better prepared to help other people.

                    The emphasis of United Way of Anchorage is currently on education.  United Way is hoping to build a community that is determined to increase graduation rates as well as to assist all students in their education.  In addition to collecting money, United Way wants volunteers to be mentors, tutors, and coaches to improve the prospects of all our young people.  Their campaign, entitled "90 by 2010" has the goal of raising the high school graduation rate in Anchorage to 90 percent by 2020 by enlisting volunteers to be mentors, tutors, coaches, etc to improve the prospects of our young people. 

                    The report states "It takes strong families, excellent schools and supportive communities to help our youth make good choices, stay on track and graduate on time.  High school graduation is a critical milestone for a youth and his or her family and a predictor of individual financial success.
                    "As a community we, too, have to make good choices and stay on track to make sure our next generation of workers and leaders graduate ready.  Educational achievement is a community bellwether and an important engine for economic growth."

                    The report included a chart showing the graduation rates in Anchorage for the past few years gradually increasing from 59.6% for the 2004-05 school year to 72.1% for the 2010-11 school year.    That is a 12.5% increase in six years and makes the 17.9% increase by 2020 seem reasonable and possible.

                    I grew up in a family where every member graduated from high school and some graduated from college.  As a parent, I strongly encouraged my children to get good grades in high school and then earn a college degree.  When I was young I thought every adult was a high school graduate!  When I heard about adults who "graduated" in the military, I thought they were the rare exception.  I was very surprised when a young man in my office said that he was the first person in his family to graduate from high school.  We know from the above statistics, that many young people fail to understand the need for education.

                    Here are a few quotes from the Action Report on Education.  They certainly attest to the need to increase high school graduation rates in our communities.
                    "High school graduation is associated with higher incomes, better health, lower criminal activity, and lower welfare receipt.  This produces significant public benefits."
                    "In 2002, 61% of inmates in the nation's state and federal prisons and local jails lacked a high school diploma."
                    "In one California study, high school dropouts were twice as likely to commit crimes as high school graduates."
                    "An adult without a high school education is twice as likely to live in poverty as one with a high school diploma.  In 2007, median personal earnings of Americans over 25 who did not complete high school were about 40% less than those who did."
                    "It takes 18 years to produce a graduate.  There is no single magic solution or point in time."

                    Reviewers at the University of California looked at 25 years of research on high school dropouts.  They came to the following conclusions:  1) "No single factor can completely account for a student's decision to continue in school until graduation."
2) "The decision to drop out is not simply what happens in school.  Student's activities and behaviors outside of school - particularly engaging in deviant and criminal behavior - are also influential."  3) "Dropping out is more of a process than an event.  For many students, the process begins in early elementary school."  4) "A number of factors within families, schools and communities affect whether students are likely to drop out or graduate.  They include access to fiscal and material resources, as well as social resources in the form of supportive relationships in families, school and communities."

                    I encourage all parents of children younger than eighteen years of age to read this report.  There are many statistics and charts than can help anyone to understand why we need to encourage high school graduation and assist our rising generation to be better educated.

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