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Discussion Forums
Education

I know, education sucks. But it's really not supposed to be that way. It's supposed to be about following your passions, being creative, learning to think for yourself. Not about just eating the dull food that's placed in front of you and then regurgitating it for a grade. I nearly dropped out in tenth grade. For the life of me, I couldn't find anything in school that related to my life; there didn't seem to be any point to it. So I just stopped going and was flunking out. But luckily for me, even back in the day there were a few "experimental" schools. Mine saved me in many ways.

I also know—from teaching in alternative high schools for awhile—that these smaller, more personal schools help lots of students not only graduate but find their way in a crazy world. Unfortunately, there aren't enough of them, and there are too many people in education who think you can separate the life circumstances and even the soul of a person from their learning process. Also, education rarely allows for different cultural approaches to learning. It still mainly serves the Anglo-American culture, which leaves a lot of other people out in the cold (and lots of white students, too). If you're not making it in regular high schools, ask a school counselor what alternatives there might be. If you don't have any, please try to make your way through to graduation anyway, because education does give you more possibilities and certain kinds of power in the world, including the ability to make more money. (See stats below.)

Even if you left high school years ago without graduating, you can take a GED class or attend night school while you work. I know school seems ridiculous when you can make so much money dealing, but that's really way too dangerous in the long run. Keep doing it and sooner or later you'll get busted or get killed. I lost one great student that way: a dealing turf war.

If you've finished high school, please at least consider going to college. It may seem like a strange idea if you don't even know anyone who's gone to college, but don't let that stop you. Don't let a lack of money stop you, either. What most people do is take out student loans with low interest rates. Don't be afraid of doing that. You don't have to start paying on them until at least half a year after you're done. I'm still paying on mine every month but it's worth it because it means I can get a halfway decent salary. If you're poor, you can get some grant money, too, money that you never have to pay back. (The Republicans have been taking away a lot of the student grant and loan funds, but there's still usually enough available to pay for the entire tuition, if not for food and shelter.)

If you find this possibility at all interesting, call up the financial aid office at a local college or university and talk to someone about what kinds of help you might be eligible for. The cheapest ones are the community colleges and the state universities. (If you want short-term, specific training for certain things, check out a technical college.) College is not just for rich white men anymore (yes, you used to need to be all of that), and it can open a lot of doors for you. Check the links.

—Gail



"Low graduation rates among students of color have devastating effects on their communities and thus on the nation as a whole . . . It is unacceptable that Black America's long-held goal of racial and ethnic diversity among our nation's economic and political leadership is undermined by the massive failure of our young people to graduate high school."

— Kaleem Caire, Black Alliance for Educational Options




Facts & Stats

In 1998, the national high school graduation rate was 71%. White students averaged 78%, African-American students 56%, and Latino students 54%.

For people reporting income, those without a high school diploma or GED had a median income of $15,334 in 1998, compared to $29,294 for those with a diploma or GED.

- Manhattan Institute

In 2001, 62% of those finishing high school in the country went on to college.

"Since 1983, the gap between blacks and whites in the immediate college enrollment rate has been reduced, but during the 1980's and 1990's the gap between Hispanics and whites has widened."

- National Center for Education Statistics

Only 47% of low-income high school graduates immediately enroll in college or trade school, compared to 82% of high-income students.

Only 18% of African-American and 19% of Hispanic high school graduates earn a 4-year college degree by their late twenties, compared to 35% of Anglo-Americans.

- White House Press Release, 2000

(Note from Gail: Go on! Break the historical restrictions, the expectations, the stereotypes. Move into the realms of power in this country. Get an education!)