Last Saturday, “Northern Kentucky’s Promise” sponsored a conference in Covington on reducing dropouts in our public schools. While there were a number of interesting presentations and discussions, one discussion that really stood out in my mind came from Michael Carter, the Interim Senior Vice President of Sinclair Community College, which is in Dayton, Ohio.
Mr. Carter and his college have been extremely active in dropout recovery efforts in Dayton, and the effort is clearly paying off. Carter mentioned that the dropout rate for schools in the Dayton area used to be 26 percent. That has now been cut in half.
A notable part of the process that brought about this remarkable change was the introduction of specialized charter schools, which are legal in Ohio.
Initially, Carter says, the regular public schools fought the creation of these charters. However, once it was explained that regular schools would not be charged with low attendance and with dropouts if the students were to enter the special charter schools, the regular education community started to see the light.
Carter also says that four groups came together to fight dropouts:
1) The Business Community – They recognized the problem and invested $3.5 million to help solve it.
2) County Government – they began to see the light once it was pointed out that about 70 cents of every dollar they were spending went to either incarceration or to welfare. (While Carter didn’t mention it, there is lots of information available that dropouts account for a healthy percentage of the people involved in jails and welfare). Now, the dropout effort that Carter is involved in gets $500,000 a year from the county.
3) Community Partners – This involves a really broad group of organizations from Easter Seals to social services. They provide a huge network of supports ranging all the way from showing teen moms how to properly secure their baby in a child seat, which the networks provide, to work clothes.
4) Educational Partners – Significantly, this included higher education as well as the K to 12 community.
Overall, Mr. Carter provided some very interesting information in his short presentation, and we are going to see if we can meet with him to learn more about the exciting effort to reduce dropouts in Dayton.