New Report Examines Alabama Citizens’ Roles in Preventing Dropouts

A new report by the David Matthews Center for Civic Life summarizes the results of the center’s 40 public forums around Alabama that examined the role of citizens in helping to prevent students from dropping out of school.

Our Community, Our Future: The Role of Citizens in Solving the High School Dropout Problem does not take a stance on what needs to be done, but instead is meant to encourage public conversation on the issue. Our Community, Our Future outlines three dropout prevention approaches discussed in the forums:

  1. Emphasize achievement (by stressing setting high academic standards in schools)
  2. Emphasize preventative and corrective school programs (like early interventions, literacy, extracurricular, and career and vocational programs)
  3. Emphasize community responsibility (to use under-utilized community resources like libraries, museums and faith-based communities)

Throughout discussion of these approaches, seven common themes emerged. Among them were the importance of defining what academic “achievement” means in schools, creating a culture that values education in communities, and emphasizing the importance of early intervention before students dropout.

At the unveiling of the report last week at Auburn University-Montgomery, citizens heard from presenters who have made decisions to act and improve their communities’ graduation rates.

Students from Central High School in Phenix City created a website for their high school and presented a short video using real stories from people in their community to identify common dropout causes.

Julie Mullins-Turner, School Improvement Specialist for Dothan City Schools discussed the efforts of the system and the community, through Yes We Can! Dothan to better serve the students and prevent them from dropping out.

Finally, representatives from Alabama Public Television highlighted the America Graduate Initiative raising awareness of the dropout situation.