Earlier this month, our friends at WHRO convened a Community Town Hall meeting focused on “Solutions to the Dropout Crisis.” Over 70 community members were in attendance at the Town Hall, which was streamed live online and will air on WHRO TV-15 on March 17 at 9:00pm. The program was held as part of the American Graduate Initiative, a coalition of “68 stations – including WHRO – [that] are working directly with more than 300 community partners to develop locally-based solutions and media content to engage parents, teachers, mentors, volunteers and business leaders, and help keep high school students on a path to college and career.”
WHRO is a fitting local leader on this issue, as the call letters stand for “HomeRoom One” and the station is owned by Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association (HRETA), a consortium of 19 Hampton Roads and Eastern Shore school systems.
There were no shortage of ideas or resources shared at the Town Hall for how to address the dropout crisis. Several representatives from the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communitiesattended, including high school and college program alumni, chapter members, and staff. They offered comments about the importance of creating a sense of belong for all students and families, bridging divides between students and educators, and leveraging the faith community. Other attendees spoke about mentoring programs, support during out-of-school time, volunteerism, services for families that are homeless, and countless other efforts to support students and improve outcomes.
The range of efforts mentioned at the Town Hall and the passion with which they are delivered to reduce dropout rates is notable. However, a bigger question emerged for us at VCIC: if so many individuals and organizations are working to fix the dropout crisis, each with limited success, are we focusing too much on mitigating the effects of a failed structure rather than working to fix the structural barriers themselves?
What do you think? Can we truly end the dropout crisis with our nation’s current educational structure?