Students part of solution in dropout prevention - - Jackson, MS

Students part of solution in dropout prevention

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

For students like Callaway High School senior Daryl Jones, Tuesday morning was more than just about a few hours away from school.

"It's about our future," Jones said.

Jones joined a room full of students in downtown Jackson to give his input on one of Mississippi's worst enemies to education, the state's dropout rate, which is currently 37 percent; the majority of which, comes from the African American community.

In 2010, that means more than 15,700 students did not graduate.

"I've witnessed some people drop out and it's not because they can't do the work, it's sometimes just because they don't want to," Jones said.

"It is a crises that we have frankly not done enough to address," said Mississippi Public Broadcasting Executive Director Ronnie Agnew.

It's that apathetic mindset which educational advocates like Agnew say needs to be erased from classrooms across the state.

"We cannot give up," Agnew said. "We have to make sure that we are doing our best. We have to make sure that we are identifying students who are at risk and try to meet those students where they are."

Hosted by MPB, the dropout prevention summit is designed to do just that.

Agnew says the state needs to have a comprehensive strategy on dropping out, which typically leads to unemployment, crime or even jail time.

While the reasons behind ditching the classroom can vary, Agnew says a major factor begins in the home with a lack of respect and desire for education.

"We have to have parents who care, we have to have parents who are not handing over their child raising responsibilities to the teachers," Agnew said.

"We have to change some of our morals and views and our priorities at home and it will carry over," Jones said.

Through a state network of community engagements, tutoring, service learning and after school opportunities, Agnew feels the state would be better positioned.

"We're not going to solve it completely. We're not going to fix it completely but at least we can put a dent in to the problem," Agnew said. "If we can just convince some students that they're making one of the biggest mistakes of their lives then we've been successful."

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