Wake County, NC – Thoughts for June 2019 from Bill Fletcher, Member of the Wake County Board of Education.
‘Tis the season to congratulate our seniors as they commence the next phase of their lives! This year, Wake will award 11,469 diplomas and see about 90% of the four-year cohort – those who entered ninth grade in 2015 – demonstrate they are prepared for the next step.
But what about the 10% of students who will not graduate? What choices did they make, or what did our schools fail to do to assure these 1,300 students succeeded academically?
Based on an economic impact study by Dr. Mike Walden, it is anticipated that each non-graduate will earn one million dollars less over their lifetime than a high school grad. And that loss of earning power will be replaced by local, state and federal programs that together invest one million tax dollars to provide services for each non-graduate.
The 2019 “missing” graduates will burden government support and judicial systems by more than one billion dollars over the next 40 years.
So what to do?
What do we know about non-completers and factors that may have impacted their education? Which of these factors can or should the school attempt to address?
- Family income – students living in poverty do not have access to resources available to most
- Family unit – the intact family is becoming a rarity; students need two parents
- Family income insufficient to satisfy the need for shelter, food & clothing creates trauma in students
- Adverse childhood experiences (ACES) that are not understood or embraced at school
- Cultural indifference at school – where students are not allowed to bring their authentic selves to school
- Lack of high expectations for success at home and/or at school
- Lack of social skills to deal with conflict or disagreements in positive, non-violent ways
- Lack of regular attendance at school
- Failure of adults in school to establish positive, trusting and nurturing relationships with students
- Failure of adults to engage students where they are with authentic relationships
- Failure of school to be or to be perceived to be a safe haven for students
Strategies that may overcome these impediments to success:
- Teachers, students and parents sharing a growth mindset
- More adults in schools building authentic relationships with each student and their family
- Providing academic rigor and challenge at the student’s current level of development/proficiency
- Setting high expectations for student success and supporting the path(s) to get there
- Providing more counselors and social workers to address ACES and other trauma affecting students
- Providing more nurses and technology to evaluate/improve student health and reduce days out of school
Many of these strategies can be accomplished with quality professional development and continuing commitment to build school cultures to nurture, engage and affirm while expecting high academic achievement. This culture will take more time and more dedicated professionals who interact with each student we serve.
Question for us all!
Can we, as a community, choose to support our students with sufficient professionals to engage and nurture each student to become all they can be?
The school board’s proposed budget recommends an investment of $30 million in recurring funding to provide more professionals to change the outcomes for the 10% or more of our students across every grade level who are not finding success in school. These are clearly services our students need and should be paid for by the state as appropriate and necessary educational expenses. The Leandro decision and the NC Constitution say so.
Parent chats (except on holidays)
1st Thursday – 1 PM
Cary Chamber, 307 N Academy St., Cary
3rd Monday – 11 AM
Caribou Coffee shop, 109 SW Maynard Rd., Cary
Bill Fletcher school info: BFletcher@wcpss.net || Voice Mail: 919-694-8843 || Mobile: 919-880-5301
Story by Bill Fletcher, Member Wake County Board of Education. Photos courtesy of alamosbasement.