Teen Talk 6-5

Meet Ashley LaMantia and her 2-year-old son Robert Anthony. In elementary school, she dreamed of being the first woman president. In middle school, it was a kindergarten teacher. By 16, Ashley LaMantia had dropped out of Canton High School, too busy partying to attend class. Today, at 24, she’s unemployed, feeding her 2-year-old son with food stamps and searching for a job that doesn’t call for a high school diploma.

High school dropouts are people who have not graduated and or completed four years of high school.  These people usually dropout because they don’t like school and feel that they are not smart enough for school. According to the Urban Institute, a nonpartisan economic and social policy research firm, a projected 1,252,396 students who entered the 9th grade in 2000-01 did not graduate within four years. More than 50 percent of these non-graduates (667,438) were African-American, Latino, or Native American.

So why do students drop out of school? Well, there are several answers to this question. According to Focus Adolescent Services, one reason is that the student didn’t like school in general or the school they were attending. Another reason is that the student was failing, getting poor grades, or couldn’t keep up with schoolwork.
Students also dropout because they didn’t get along with the teacher and or the students. Still other reasons are that the student was suspended or expelled for disciplinary actions. And believe it or not some students got a job, had a family to support, or had a hard time managing both school and work.

Don’t hold your breath yet because there are some solutions to this problem. One way to solve this problem is for the parents to step in and help prevent their child from dropping out. A parent can do one of many things:
1.    Arrange for help with making up missed work, tutoring, placement in a special program, and/or a transfer to another school.
2.    Help them with personal problems, and/or arrange for professional help.
3.    Help them schedule work and family obligations so that there is also time to attend school.
4.    If all else fails, help them find a GED program and encourage them to stay with it until they get an alternative high school diploma.
Another way to solve this problem would be to raise the drop out age. Instead of students having to be 16 years old to be able to drop out of school, they can raise the age to 19. By this age most students have already completed high school.
To solve this problem a program can be implemented to help students who don’t like school or have no desire to learn. Maybe the student isn’t feeling challenged enough. There can be an after school program where the student can go and do extra work. Or if a student has a hard time keeping up. There can be a program for that student too to meet his or her needs.
This is a very serious problem in our society. According to The Detroit News, Detroit Public Schools graduation rate is only 48%. Almost 16% of Hispanics and the same percentage of blacks in Michigan between the ages of 16-24 aren’t in school and don’t have a diploma or GED, compared with 8% of whites, according to U.S. Census numbers from 2001-2003.
Ashley LaMantia feels the sting from her decision to drop out every time she faxes out a resume and doesn’t hear a response. She’s taking GED classes at Washtenaw Community College but it hasn’t yet helped her buy groceries for her 2-year-old, Robert. She admits her priorities, as a teenager weren’t going to class. “I wouldn’t go for a month or a week,” said LaMantia, who rejected her father’s efforts to keep her in school. This story came from The Detroit News at detnews.com special report.

Rodneya Ross is a 16 year old and she attends Cass Technical High School in Detroit, MI.