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Catalogue Blog

Second Chances

If you have not yet checked out the American Graduate series on WAMU 88.5, certainly do so. Education reporter Kavitha Cardoza examines the “causes and consequences” of the drop-out crisis in our region and the country.

This week, WAMU highlights several dropout recovery schools (specialized programs that provide a second chance to students who have not succeeded in traditional schools), including Catalogue nonprofit YouthBuild Public Charter School. Through YouthBuild, students ages 16-24 move among the classroom (focusing on reading, science, math), a construction site (building affordable housing units), and service learning opportunities (creating community gardens and cleaning up local rivers).

Here’s a glimpse into the life of a YouthBuild student:

Students in overalls and hard hats saw and sand boards for new trim at the construction site where they’re currently working. They attend a dropout recovery school in the District, and they use the construction skills they’ve learned at school to renovate low-income housing. One of the students, 22-year-old Omar Mobley, measures a plank of wood.

“You gotta know math if you wanna do construction. You gotta read a measuring tape,” he says. “It ain’t as easy as it looks … Basically you gotta know your division.”

Mobley dropped out of school a few years ago after his twin brother was shot and killed. His is just one of dozens of rough stories of students at YouthBuild Public Charter School in Northwest DC. [...] He felt his life was spiraling out of control. Going to school just made it worse; he couldn’t concentrate because classes were so chaotic, he says. He missed a lot of days, and eventually stopped going back.

Now at YouthBuild, Mobley has perfect attendance. He likes the small classes and feels the teachers there are different.

As Executive Director Arthur Dade explains, “We ask them when did they drop out of school, but it’s really when did they check out of school.” So the challenge is re-engagement as much as re-enrollment.

More For Schools

Regarding “Report: Fixing Education Disparities Is a Public Safety Strategy” from the Justice Policy Institute, DCentric writes:

Researchers found the same stark disparities we’ve examined when it comes to education levels in DC’s wards; for instance, one-fifth of Ward 8 adults haven’t completed high school. But the report also breaks down formal education levels of DC’s adults by race. Nearly all white adults in DC — 99 percent of them — have a high school diploma or higher. For African Americans, 80 percent of adults have completed high school, while 57 percent of Hispanic adults have high school diplomas. [...]

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In The News …

Why Kids Drop Out: Identifying The Early Warning Signs (WAMU): “New graduation numbers to be released this month are expected to show that just more than half of public school students in the District actually graduate high school in four years. Students don’t drop out of school for any one reason. It’s usually a complicated mix, including individual traits, home life as well as school and neighborhood characteristics. But many researchers believe children exhibit clear warning signs early on that can help identify those at risk of dropping out. This report focuses on Turner Elementary School in Southeast, whose graduates attend a middle and high school “where approximately 20 percent of students can read and do math at grade level.” Attendance is the most critical challenge, as nearly 20 percent of DCPS students “had more than two weeks of unexcused absences last year.” To learn more about Catalogue education enrichment nonprofits, head this way.

Study: Child Abuse Affects More US Kids than SIDS (TIME): “When it comes to child abuse, the first year of life is the most dangerous for children. Although SIDS, or sudden infant death syndrome, attracts far more attention, the rate of hospital admissions related to SIDS is actually lower than the rate of child abuse — 50 per 100,000 children under age 1 for SIDS, compared with 58.2 per 100,000 births. [...] Researchers at Yale University found that abuse landed 4,569 children under 18 in the hospital in 2006; 300 of them died.” Locally, SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) of Northern Virginia and Alternative House are working for safe, permanent homes for children in need.

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Freshman Fall

Before long, freshman orientation will begin at colleges and universities across the country. Dorms will fill up and students will move away from home, many for the first time in their lives. Some joke that the hardest part of college is getting in, but staying in often proves far more challenging. As the Washington Post Education Review points out:

The members of the incoming Class of 2015 have been lectured on the value of a college degree for most of their lives. But getting that degree has never been more expensive, especially at a time when some families are dealing with unemployment, cut wages and other financial hardships. Record numbers of freshmen are arriving on campus already stressed out, and campus resources are stretched thinner by demand. Continue reading