Letters to the Editor

School dropouts affect us all | Federal Way letters

Tito Hinojos’ recent Mirror column regarding high school diplomas and GED ("Wake up, it's time for school" June 10) is right on.

People who go back to get a GED should be viewed as someone who is more on the ball and worthy of hiring. To satisfy the GED requirements after you’ve dropped out is hard because there are too many other distractions. Those who persevere should be recognized as having the positive characteristics he listed to do a good job. Kudos to Mr. Hinojos for pointing this out.

But my issue is that there should not be that many GEDs granted. As he noted, there are certainly some students who are faced with situations that require dropping out, but I believe they are a very small minority. The vast number of kids who drop out simply do so because they can get away with it. Instead, they just need a little more support and guidance.

It has long been recognized that somewhere between 1 in 4 (or even 1 in 3) kids who start school will not finish high school. You have to wonder what those kids are doing later in their lives. As an example, research finds that about half of the 2.3 million people currently in our country’s jails did not finish high school. It costs almost $24,000 a year to house a single jailbird. This does not include the costs for the insurance paid out, the legal process, monitoring, etc. Do the math.

If we are truly looking to reduce our tax burdens, then we citizens need to put our shoulder to the issue of the high school dropout. We need to be strong and not accept any more high school dropouts. It is simply too expensive in more ways than just money.

How? By supporting any organization whose mission it is to help kids to stay in school. For instance, check out Communities in Schools (CIS). It is a national organization whose mission is to bring whatever community resources it takes to keep kids in school. Here in Federal Way, the CIS organization has a variety of programs. Currently, CIS mentors 60 kids in 12 schools. Next year, they hope to expand it to 110 kids in 15 schools.

CIS Federal Way also is beginning a program called Coordination of Resources (CORE) that provides information to educators to help kids with issues that prevent them from staying in school; from big stuff like getting glasses or dental work, to little stuff like getting a backpack to carry books. You can help financially or by providing a very small amount of your time to talk to a kid. Look into it.

Mr. Hinojos was right, we all have a problem and we cannot allow it to keep going the way it has been for decades. For so many reasons, kids who drop out of school should not be tolerated. So many of our kids here in your town just need a little help and guidance to stay in school, so join in and lend a hand. You’ll feel good about it and, in the long run, your pocket won’t mind either.

Pete Gonzales, Federal Way

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