On Saturday, since Alabama was not playing, and Auburn was playing an easy team, I found something that was interesting to watch, it was called American Graduate. It was the third year for American Graduate, and the mission is simple, talk about the dropout crisis in America, and highlight ways teachers and people are doing to make the education experience better! And yes, I participated by sending out a photo with the sign saying “I am an American Graduate #AmGrad”, it was retweeted by American Graduate and several other people!
Today’s global economy demands a more educated workforce. Communities are working together to improve 21st century learning and increase high school graduation rates to prepare more students for college and successful careers. Public media stations across the country are at the center of this community-based work — from quality content and forums to local partnerships and classroom resources — to increase understanding and access to solutions.
American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen is a long term public media commitment, supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), to help communities implement solutions to the high school dropout crisis. Public media plays a significant role building individual activity, community capacity, and national awareness. The dropout crisis demands attention now, and they are rising to the challenge of doing our part to address this problem. A new study conducted by the Everyone Graduates Center at Johns Hopkins School of Education finds that the American Graduate initiative has succeeded in building community capacity to meet the national priority of ending America’s high school dropout crisis.
Through American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, public media is increasing national and local reporting, convening diverse local stakeholders, and providing access to free, digital classroom resources for teachers and parents. By working with the community, public broadcasting stations are increasing the footprint of progress, reaching more children and families to seed the foundation for a prosperous economic future for our country. On Saturday, American Graduate Day aired on many public TV stations including Alabama Public Television in Alabama, which aired the seven hour-long broadcast, and I did watch most of it.
If you want to learn more about the American Graduate program, and it’s a good program, go to: http://www.americangraduate.org/. In honor of American Graduate Day, I am going to talk about my school experiences, and there is plenty of talk about. So this will be a longread post! First off, I am embedding my school and job education history below. This would give you a good idea about how school went.
I remember kindergarten well, I was in a classroom where we wrote in a journal, learned numbers, words, and the exact date, and got to play with a lot of great things. The classroom had a wall of activities, like drawing, climbing on a ladder to a private area to read a book, playing on the computer, and more. The wall only had a few spots available for each activity, and each student had a name tag where we hang our nametag on the activity we wanted to do, it was simple and fun! In first and second grade in the same school, we learned math, science, history, English, and had some other cool stuff! We had music class, played a lot great games in PE, went on field trips (exciting), and also had an arts class.
In third grade, we went to a different school, and outside of school, the family atmosphere changed in a bad way. In my opinion, children who experience their parents divorcing experience some challenges. And my parents went through a painful divorce. In school, I remember learning things with some great teachers, doing some great activities, like bowling in PE, and doing Field Day, where we had no class, and got to do competitions like the Tug-Of-War, which our class won! Meanwhile, the home environment got worse, and sadly I was being abused and sometimes ignored by my father.
In 5th grade, off to another school, I remember being in the geography bee and appearing on the school’s TV network! And I also remember staying after school to correct the reading disorder problem. One thing I hated about 5th grade was multiplication. Each week, we were given a quiz and the students who did not pass could not go to snack and had to stay behind writing out multiplication tables. Students did not like this, and some parents did not like this either. I wonder if this has changed by now? Soon, we are on the move. But during the first six years in school, I had speech and learning problems. I got to leave class some days each week and go to a one on one speech class with Ms. Meadows. Being different also meant being bullied by some students, and the bullying gets worse.
We moved, and went to middle school. I enjoyed some of the classes like art class! But soon I was removed from middle school, and went to a special needs school. The school district actually provided separate transportation for the special needs students, and the school had timeouts, quiet rooms, and a rewards system where you can redeem points for prizes. Sadly, I did not learn much there. And the reason why I think I went there was because of the abuse from the parents and siblings going on at home. Yes, I think students who come from home environments where they are abused and neglected have a much harder time learning at school, it sure did affect me!
Soon, I left that special school, and moved to another middle school. I was placed in a special needs classroom, where I barely learned anything. But sure did enjoy the popcorn we sold on Fridays to raise funds. Yes, I took unsold bags home on Friday so I could eat something instead of being starved. At home, the neglects got worse, where I spent weeks in my room, and had to sit at the dining room table with a video camera trained on me. At school, the bullying got so bad that some kids tried to break down a bathroom door with me in the bathroom, and the kids picking on me was non-stop. Things got so bad that the police investigated my parents, but nothing happened.
Soon I was sent off to another special school where we got to swim in a pool, and do not much of anything. One of the concerns I have is with students who are put in these “Special Needs Schools” and do not learn much of anything. The current unemployment rate for special needs people who have Autism or Asperger’s for example is way too high. What do people in special needs schools learn, and are they ready for real life when they graduate from school? That is a concern I always think about. After I got to move to my mother’s and get away from my father, this is what happens next.
At a new middle school, the staff was concerned with my learning schedule, after I told them we hardly did anything in the special needs classrooms and schools. So the decision was made to hold me back one grade. And I started with two classes a day, then four, then a full day schedule. Yes, I went to several special needs classrooms and had a period of just study hall. But the special needs class was only for one or two periods, and not the entire school day. The rest of the day was spent in general classrooms. Then we moved again to a private school.
The private school was okay, the classes were easy, and I was getting good grades because the school was almost a piece of cake. Then we moved again to high school. The school was okay, but I struggled. The classes were either easy or hard. The easy classes had teachers who gave you the study guide to the test, and gave you the same study guide as the test the next day. The hard classes never gave you a study guide, and in classes like Physical Science and English, I earned D’s and almost flunked them. One concern I had been classes like industrial maintenance, shop class, art class, and home ec, since the school had so little school funds, we never got to bake, or practice on a real machine, and so on.
During high school, the bullying continued until I graduated, and my best friends inside school were the teachers, I was called a “Teacher’s Pet” by some students. I chatted with several teachers after class or after school. The school thought I would be a good fit for their Junior NROTC class, and that did not end very well for me, I was glad to get out of that! I did graduate, by mostly taking the easiest classes possible, and I did get a “Technical Diploma” and graduated last in my class. Yep, I was the very last person to graduate in the Class of 2006, because my last name is Young.
So, to sum up my school experience, I want to share a few warning signs to identify students who struggle through school and might not graduate. And these signs comes from my real life experiences.
- Being abused or neglected by parents or siblings at home.
- Is a shy student.
- A student who is bullied by many students inside school.
- A student who is bullied by other kids outside of school.
- A student who moves around to different schools often.
- A student who needs “special attention.”
- A student who is failing in classes and needs extra tutoring.
- A student who has a hard time studying and reading books.
- A student who has attended any “special needs” schools.
- And a student who prefers to talk to teachers than the students.
These are some warning signs for students who might struggle in school and might not graduate. I am glad to see the American Graduate program, and I hope it sticks around!
Learn more about American Graduate at: http://www.americangraduate.org/