Bladen County officials working to lower dropout number

BLADEN COUNTY -- In Bladen County last year about 1,700 students started the year off in the county's two high schools. By the end of the year 148 of them dropped out. Now school officials are working to lower that number.

Compared with those 148 students, 106 students dropped out of Bladen County schools the previous year. The 40 percent increase has them understandably concerned.

Bladen County education officials say there are several factors contributing to the dropouts. Family life and large class sizes are two. A few dropouts are pregnancy-related.

A number of programs have been created to help keep kids in school. A credit recovery program allows students to make-up lost credits if they fail a course and an improved summer school program covers many more courses than in the past.

"One is too many," Attendance and Dropout Specialist Tim Benton said. "Believe me, I anguish over every student that drops out."

Students in Bladen County who get suspended get in trouble in their schools, or have behavioral problems have the option to go to the school of extended hope. It's an alternative school that works with the students so they don't have to be sitting at home or out on the streets.

Superintendent Ken Dinkins said he would like to see more programs put in place in the elementary and middle school levels, before students even have time to think about dropping out in high school.

The county seems to be on the right track this school year in the fall semester six high school seniors dropped out, compared with an average of 30 in years past.

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Our children are our future and should be afforded a quality education. There are so many children, even after the No Child Left Behind Act, that are "left behind". If we want our children to receive a quality education then we should have "quality" teachers/instructors. Most children have graduated just because someone took the time to say "you can do it". Teacher's play a big part in our children's lives and if they could just step out of their comfort zone and take the time to care about these youth then maybe the number of graduates would increase. Many children drop out of school not only because what is going on at home but also because of what is "not going" on at school. These children are our future and as we continue to walk through "the Age of the Computers", many teens continue to fall further behind. If we do not do something now about the education of our children they are going to be faced with low skilled paying jobs, increased dependence on Welfare, and Poverty. Don't get me wrong...A job is a job, however; these children are suppose to be our future Doctors, Lawyers, and Congress men/women. Like I said earlier, "[I]f we want our children to get a quality education, then produce some quality teachers". Raise the stakes in the education levels of the teachers and at the same time we as a society can increase the level of education that our children receive and get them performing at the State level. In conclusion, we should start at the head-start level and make sure that all children, regardless of what class they are in...are all afforded the exact quality teachings as those that are wealthy (ensuring that "No Child Is Left Behind").