a. These numbers are scary: 30% of American students drop out or don’t graduate on schedule. And 50% of minorities drop out. Moreover, 43% of African American males drop out and about 21% go to prison. These staggering numbers spell out a potentially tragic future for the country.
b. Why? Gallup’s research found that kids drop out for one compelling reason: Loss of hope. They’re not excited about what comes next in their lives, and they start dropping out mentally while in high school.
c. Increasing hope. What leaders must do:
i. Grow engaged teachers—teachers matter most in student confidence and thus staying in school.
ii. Use Gallup’s Student poll. See pp. 137-38.
iii. Reduce the dropout rate by 50%.
iv. Involve the entire community. It’s not just a school problem but a community one—one that has a huge, expensive, lasting impact.
d. Summary of schools: There’s no national silver bullet to fix this one. We can’t toss money at it. It’s a community issue that everyone has to weigh in on. Student graduation is a predictor of community health. The entrepreneurial spirit of kids in school (5th-12th graders) is trending up, we have a real shot at a vital economy (see The Gallup-HOPE index, a sample of which is on pp. 141-42).