- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Test scores have been on the minds of a lot of folks as of late, especially those with children in public schools.
Most media attention tends to focus on the local schools' progress in meeting academic goals so that the schools can be compared with ones in neighboring communities, or so one state's progress can be matched against another state's.
Not nearly as much ink is spent on student dropout rates. Perhaps it should be. While Kentucky has made progress, it continues to have one of the nation's highest dropout rates.
Since retiring from public education seven years ago, I haven't spent much time thinking about dropout rates. I haven't had an immediate need to think about the problem.
As far as I can determine, my dad was the last member of our family to drop out of school and he did so in 1941 to join the Army. On my mother's side, her dad was the last, and if still alive, he'd be about 115 years old.
But a chance encounter one night last week reminded me how critically important it is for kids to stay in school.
While imbibing at one of my favorite Lexington watering holes, I noticed that a waitress, whose nametag identified her as Misty, looked beat. She had served me on other occasions and always had a big smile, oozed energy and exhibited great people skills.
When she approached to take my order, I simply mentioned that she appeared to be very tired. It was like I'd opened a verbal spigot. During the next 30 minutes she alternated between relating her story, checking on the only other two customers in the place and returning to continue her story.
She said she had dropped out of high school at 16 to have her son, who is now a teenager. Now, at age 30, she is a single mom and had just started a second job. She apparently is getting about three hours of sleep several nights each week.
Misty said she was making enough money at the watering hole to maintain her status quo, but not enough to meet the additional cost of being tutored in math several hours each week. So she took the second job.
"I'm getting help in math so I can pass the GED," Misty said. "I took it once before and aced the other parts. I really need to have better math skills so I can help my son with his math homework."
She hopes to land a full-time job that will provide enough money to pay the bills, as she realizes that continuing to work at night is not conducive to raising a teenage boy.
Misty could easily serve as a poster child for all the reasons why, in today's society, youngsters must stay in school. Her beauty queen looks, pleasing personality and natural intelligence haven't been enough to compensate for not earning a diploma.