America’s urban public schools are failing its people. Over one million students drop out of high school every year, but 50% of dropouts come from just 12% of schools – schools located in the depths of America’s ghettoes. This dropout crisis is recognized but not yet understood by policymakers.
The most notable reforms and initiatives of the past 15 years, such as the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the 2009 Race to the Top Initiative, have resulted in a decrease in overall graduation rates for minority students. This, in turn, creates the “prison pipeline” phenomenon. People who do not graduate high school are eight times more likely to serve time in prison or jail. As graduating class sizes are shrinking, prison cells are beginning to burst with former students turned desperate cons.
I spent the last ten months working in a school rated in the bottom 5% of schools nationwide. I served with City Year, a non-profit dedicated to resolving the dropout crisis by providing mentoring and tutoring to students who show early warning indicators of dropping out. While serving, I had a chance to observe the education crisis firsthand. Lacking a real family, my students had their needs neglected from a very young age. Every part of them is in need, and so every part of them must be recognized, healed, and fed.
The crisis of education can be recognized by symptoms of spiritual malnourishment and are attributed to the degradation of the family structure. As found by Johns Hopkins University studies, students that exhibit signs of poor course performance in English and math, poor attendance, and behavior problems are 75% more likely to drop out of high school than other students. Each of these early warning indicators can be correlated to a lack in one of the three drives in human beings: intellect, heart, and will.