MILLEDGEVILLE — Georgia’s high school graduation rate is a plaguing issue that hangs like an albatross upon public schools all over the state. The most recent graduation figures, released late last month, show an increase statewide by 6 percent in 2012, but this offers little to celebrate when we consider the starting point.
Georgia ranks in the bottom tier nationwide in high school graduation rate. The most recent figures show that 70 percent of eligible Georgia students completed high school last year. Locally Baldwin High School’s graduation rate went south by 5 percent compared to the previous year — from 68 percent in 2011 to 63 percent in 2012.
The state level and the local level the figures speak a tough, hard truth that local schools and the community must be frank and honest about addressing.
At 70 percent, 3 out of 10 students are falling short of graduating high school. What becomes of them is a reflection on all of us and plays a part in setting the tone for Georgia’s future. There has to be a way to address the disconnect those falling through the cracks have with regards to how not having diploma directly impacts their lives. The message is clearly not reaching them and the reasons why have to be faced head-on.
Adults can’t be the needed example young people should have if they don’t have adequate credentials themselves. The number of local adults without high school diplomas must change also in order to change the community culture and how education is viewed within families. Successful efforts launched in recent years such as the ASPIRE literacy program through Communities in Schools of Milledgeville-Baldwin County, GED training offered at local churches and through the housing authority and the local Career Academy, have potential but their long-term impact on the rates have yet to be fully determined.
Analysis for finding a solution won’t fit within the column inches this editorial space permits. Schools have to tell the community what they need to fix the problem, and vice versa, and each side must listen and respond.
It is only possible, however, through honest dialogue, support and education on the issue that keeps driving the message home.