Dropping the Dropout Rate

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Every year, hundreds of thousands of teenagers drop out of school, at a rate so endemic it’s impossible to know the exact number. But behind each of those students, there is a story.

These stories are the ones that Frank Koughan wanted to tell in the new Frontline documentary “Dropout Nation.”

"Dropout Nation" focuses on Houston’s Sharpstown High, once notorious as a "dropout factory." Frontline, produced by our partner WGBH, spent a semester at Sharpstown, profiling four high risk students. Many of these teens are fighting terrible odds — some are homeless, or working 40 hours a week in addition to attending school.

But in the eyes of staff members like Brandi Brevard, many of these kids have a fighting chance, if adults like her take the time to care for them.


Brandi Brevard and Frank Koughan

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Comments [4]

Peter R from Queens

How can we have a dropout "crisis" or "endemic" when dropout rates are lower than they have ever been in US history -- across race and economic class? Surely we should be improving the dropout rate... but to call it a crisis when it is not amounts to alarmism, which in turn leads to jumping to conclusions.

And whose conclusions are we jumping to? Don't be surprised to discover that many of the "experts" being consulted on this very program are being financially backed by people who stand to profit immensely by being given the keys to the system. I'm thinking primarily of Michelle Rhee and her "StudentsFirst" organization. It is Michelle Rhee's job to convince us that she is an expert on the issue -- THE expert --and her resources certainly help her in that regard. But a closer look at her record and her backing reeks of farce, corruption, and deception.

But let's not pay too much attention to the advice of actual educators.

Sep. 25 2012 02:09 PM
Molly Eno from Portland, OR

I'm continuously frustrated by the idea that the solution to our education woes is parental participation. My parents suffered from addiction issues and mental illness and were never going to participate--does that mean I didn't deserve a good education? Some children will never have parent that are willing or able to participate in their children's education. Poverty is THE MAJOR CONTRIBUTING FACTOR to children who don't succeed. Punishing teachers or parents or students won't work. Social programs that feed and mentor kids will work better than any scheme to promote parent participation.

Sep. 25 2012 01:42 PM
Robert Block from Manhattan, USA

My parents, sisters, daughter and myself are all products of the NYCPS system. We are educated people. Presently, I'm employed at a very nice community ctr in the Bronx that runs a very nice GED and job placement program. Good people fighting the good fight. Our clients failed in their educations or were failed, utterly and we struggle mightily to get them going. I teach practical vocational skills. For this reason and having raised my own child so far so good, I feel myself qualified to comment;;;
Nationally or locally, the same parties are ever indicted in the many education conversations being aired. Teachers, parents, politicos, pta's, unions, school boards, principals and even cops. In varying degrees and issues, yes all parties share some responsibility but who or what is NOT being brought to the forum. Those who create an impentrable wall of distraction between children and their critical education and I would go so far as to say between children and themselves. The basket cases I get have no compass to navigate between what is real and what comes by way of media. What is information or knowledge and what is marketing dressed as pop pulp garbage.
Algebra, bio-chem, US history, socio-eco writing skills, gramar and reading and all the arts cannot compete with cell phones, gameboys, NBA,NL,AL,JZ, facebook,youtube, cable tv, music videos, any number of berries and advertising (the worst) which tells of and sells them the too soon expired detritus of our disposeable culture. The list is a ponderous chain. Unfortunately, they drag it through life.
Anyone who enters into a conversation about American education without including these omnipotant and powerful forces is just another lying son of a bitch with an agenda. Ask a teacher why dontcha. These our children do not bring their minds to a classroom. Should teachers teach their cell phones instead? Who and why are they so bent on eliminating Public/educational programming. Bad apple?
Thank you

Sep. 25 2012 12:50 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

We are all responsible for the children...When I'm in the playground with my kids, I am always aware of little kids six and seven years old who are in the playground without any parental supervision. I try my best to include them to play with my own kids, and no matter what the sport, show them how to play baseball or shoot baskets...As a kid, I was taught by other adults how to do things and it resonated with me throughout my life.

Sep. 25 2012 09:29 AM

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