Reasons behind high school drop outs

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By Carol A. Clark

Exploring the motivations and concerns of students who decide to drop out of high school is the subject of the latest study conducted by three area teens.

Los Alamos Youth Mobilizers Annie Chroninger, 17, Josh Dolin, 16,  and Emi Weeks, 16, presented their findings to the board of education and administrators Tuesday evening in the Speech Theater.

“The reason why we really wanted to do this project is there was a lack of data on how much the issue was affecting youth in the community,” Weeks said.

The Youth Mobilizers used qualitative research methods, while also drawing from Action Research Methodology.

“The thing we’d like to point out is dropping out isn’t always negative,” Chroninger said. “Most of the former students go on to college and still do what a normal graduate would do.”

Dolin explained the process. “We interviewed 23 of these students and all 23 already have their GED or are in the process,” he said.

The dropouts were from 2000 to present and were found through knowing them, through friends, social Internet sites and by attending a couple of GED classes at UNM-LA.

They range from 15-18 years of age, Dolin said. Nine were male and 14 female.

Five said they felt they were being bullied. That caused one to ditch school and eventually drop out.  Some felt school staff treated them unfairly. A couple felt profiled because of their race. Others were bored.

One thing to keep in mind in the process of change, the teens said, is that nobody is pointing fingers or attacking the school or students, but there is room for improvement, “and that should be the main goal for everyone.”

The board and administrators praised the Youth Mobilizers for a job well done. “You guys rock,” said newly elected board President Joan Ahlers.

“I’m really, really, glad you did this,” Superintendent Mary McLeod said.

McLeod told the youth, this year she has met with every student expressing a desire to drop out.

She tried to talk them out of it but also asked permission to follow their progress in obtaining a GED and going on to college.

The youth mobilizers and the schools agreed to work together to find ways to address the drop out issue.

Contact Carol A. Clark at lanews@lamonitor.com or (505) 662-4185 ext. 25. Read her blog at www.newsextras.wordpress.com.