Why do students drop out of high school? Their reasons are many. Some are personal, such as pregnancy or the need to help support
their families. Most, however, are school-related. Most students who dropped out were doing poorly in school, and many felt that their
teachers didn’t care. Only 18 percent reported to the NCES that they had passing grades in their last year of school. Often, dropouts
felt that they didn’t fit in, or they couldn’t get along with their teachers or fellow students. One New York City teen told researcher
Edwin Farrell: I think people drop out of school [because] of the pressure that school brings them. Like, sometimes the teacher might
get on the back of a student so much that the student doesn’t want to do the work. . . . And then that passes and he says, “I’m gonna
start doing good. . . .” Then he’s not doing as good as he’s supposed to and when he sees his grade, he’s, “you mean I’m doin’ all that
for nothin’? I’d rather not come to school.” One student talked about older teens in school: “I think kids drop out of school because
[they’re getting] too old to be in high school. And . . . they think it’s time to get a responsibility and to get a job and stuff.”
A teenager in Oakland, California, felt that no one in school cared about him: I was invisible, man. I knew it. I sat in those schools
for two years. I sat in the back of the room and I did nothing. I didn’t speak to anyone and no one spoke to me. Nobody said, “Do your
work” or nothing. Then one day I said it, “Man I’m invisible here.” I got up and walked out the door and I never went back.
The young man in Oakland did find an alternative school where he was noticed and encouraged and was able to earn a high school diploma.
But too many don’t, and they end up with low-skill, low-paying jobs that offer no future. The costs are great, both to dropouts and to society.
“Society cannot afford to lose the contributions these individuals have the potential to...