(L-R) Calhoun Board of Education member,
Joy Starcher, former Governor Bob Wise, and
Cynthia Dale, Calhoun School Board, president

By Cynthia Dale
BOE President
Calhoun County Schools

Calhoun County Board Members submitted an application to participate in a grant through The Education Alliance based in Charleston, West Virginia and were one of five counties chosen to participate.

The purpose of the grant is to conduct strategies that will bring together parents, community members, various agencies and school personnel to work together to improve our graduation rate here in Calhoun County.

On Monday, May 24, 2010, Joy Starcher and I attended a learning session conducted by Dr. Pat Kusimo, President of The Education Alliance where our past Governor Bob Wise was a speaker.

Governor Wise is now President of The Alliance for Excellent Education and resides in Washington, D. C. He is the author of the book Raising the Grade: How High School Reform Can Save Our Youth And Our Nation and acts as Chair of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.

Under Governor Wise's leadership, the Alliance continues to build its reputation as a respected authority on high school policy by advocating for reform in America's secondary education system and is working to ensure that all students graduate from high school prepared for college, careers, and to be contributing members of society.

The information conveyed that day was very informative and interesting in relation to the student dropout problem. The student dropout crisis is not just a county or state problem but a problem that is of epidemic proportion nationally.

National dropout data yields that nearly one-third of all public school students do not graduate with their class, resulting in more than 1.2 million students dropping out of high school each year. Among developed countries, the United States ranks 18th in high school graduation rates and 15th in college graduation rates.

High school dropouts are more likely than high school graduates to be unemployed living on public assistance and living in poverty. Our educational system must provide our students with the ability to be productive, self sufficient citizens.

There are red flags that go up for students as to their probability of dropping out of school which entail poor attendance; poor coursework performance and poor behavior. The importance of staying in school must be incorporated in the curriculum as early as elementary school. Enabling our students to become excellent readers by the 3rd or 4th grade will attribute positively to their overall academic success their school years.

Throughout our various seminars we will be enlightened on how to get parents, community members, educational personnel and community members involved in learning what they can do to help students stay in school.

We will be attending various meetings throughout the length of instruction until February of 2011. The tools that we learn as board members will develop insight that can be utilized from year to year. We will be utilizing consultants available through The Education Alliance to go with us into the schools to speak with at-risk students and then conduct family-outreach for those children at risk. Over the summer we have been advised to find local agencies that also lend help to students.

As board members, we must continue to be constant learners on educational issues and work to improve our school system here in Calhoun County.

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