Low GHS grad rate called a shared problem

From the Register-Mail:

A group led by Galesburg High School graduates Chanda Wade and Shanell Lightfoot met with school officials Thursday to discuss proposals to improve the graduation rate of black students.

Spurred on by The Register-Mail’s late-December series “Graduation in Black & White,” Lightfoot and Wade prepared an 18-page report detailing suggestions to help reverse the trend of declining graduation rates among black students. The two-part series documented a nearly 30 percentage point drop in the graduation rate for black students over the past seven years, putting the district’s rate below comparable schools and the state average. The series looked at causes and sought solutions for reversing the trend.

“Our overall purpose was, I guess, to try and rally the community to realize high school dropouts are everyone’s problem,” Lightfoot said. “We know from statistics that the vast majority of high school dropouts nationwide end up staying in the community where they dropped out of school.

“And we know from statistics that a significant number of dropouts (students who don’t graduate) are more likely to be a burden on taxpayers — in terms of health care, employment and incarceration rates. What we want to say to the Galesburg community is that the dropout rate really is a shared problem. It effects all of us and we should try to work together toward some kind of solution.”

Wade is a 2006 GHS graduate who is a senior at Knox College. She was profiled in The Register-Mail’s series. Lightfoot graduated from Galesburg in 2001 and recently started her own business, DormStyled, in St. Louis. They were joined by Knox College students Jordan Lanfair, Christina Aquino and Maurice McDavid, as well as community member Addi Williams. They met with GHS Principal Tom Chiles, Assistant Principal Brett Wolfe, teacher Jean Ann Glasnovich and Knox County Regional Office of Education Truancy Director Lorenzo Pugh.

In their report, Wade and Lightfoot suggested a dropout prevention and graduation improvement team comprised of community members dedicated to “rallying the community to end the dropout crisis, understanding the dimensions of the dropout challenge in your region, develop an effective plan to combat high dropout rates and prepare youth for advanced learning in and after high school and building strong partnerships to make lasting change happen.”