This week is Graduation Awareness Week in NC with a focus on dropout prevention and incentives to stay in school like Learn and Earn.
Blanket statements about drop-out prevention and graduation rates belie the complexity behind the data. While the graduation rates of some minority groups are low compared to the average, about half of the drop-outs in 2006-07 were white students. (11,674 out of 23,550). Race, ethnicity, socioeconomics, geography, politics, family circumstances, behavior and aptitude are all factors.
While drop-out statistics begin in the 9th grade some students are already mentally dropping out in 7th and 8th grades. Short term suspensions peak in the 7th and 8th grades while long term suspensions peak in the 9th grade. In 2006-07 out of a total of 11,013 reported incidents of 17 reportable criminal and violent acts there were 4,339 incidences of Possession of a Controlled Substance, 3,925 incidences of Possession of a Weapon, 1,081 incidences of Possession of Alcoholic Beverage and 889 Assaults on School Personnel.
Many students who drop out of school end up in the Juvenile Justice system, and eventually Corrections, where the cost of care exceeds the cost of prevention. InsideOut is a documentary produced by the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation  in which stories of prison inmates are used as shock treatment to encourage students to stay in school. For those who don't end up in prison the average drop-out earns less than a high-school graduate.
The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation  was created to help educators, community leaders and other interested groups reduce the dropout rate and increase the graduation rate through the creation of relevant and effective tools and resources.
North Carolina needs more cross-disciplinary thinking and inter-agency co-operation to keep our kids in school, out of prison, and ready for a better life.