High schools or ‘drop out factories’?

“There is a system in place to keep a plantation running, for the benefit of the rich and powerful. The only way to destroy it is with proper education, both for the Black and White child.” –from the book “A Torchlight For America,” by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, 1993.

LOS ANGELES (FinalCall.com)Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have labeled approximately 2,000 U.S. high schools as drop out factories for their high rates of students who walk out of their doors instead of walking across graduation stages.


In a report titled, “Locating the Dropout Crisis–Which High Schools Produce the Nation’s Dropouts? Where Are They Located? Who Attends Them,” Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters, the study’s lead researchers, noted that 50 years after Brown vs. The Board of Education, the current picture of all youth receiving equal education is troubling.

After tracking high school seniors from 2004 to 2006, the researchers found that nearly half of America’s Black students, nearly 40 percent of Latino students, and only 11 percent of White students attend high schools in which graduation is not the norm.

“Locating the Dropout Crisis” indicated that nearly more than half of high school students from Benton Harbor, Mich., Watts in Los Angeles, Calif., Akron, Ohio, Baltimore, Md., the South Side of Chicago, Ill. to rural parts of South Carolina do not graduate, let alone leave high school fully prepared to participate in civic life.

“It is no coincidence that these locales are gripped by high rates of unemployment, crime, ill health, and chronic despair,” the report noted.

The study’s recommended solutions to the dropout crisis included targeting weak promoting high schools and systems that support them; replacing large comprehensive high schools with small high schools of 300 or fewer students; developing the capacity, will and know-how to implement what already works in successful high schools; increasing personalization and student outreach; improving teacher quality and support; and improving professional development.

Despite this grim picture, high quality education is still within reach.

In 1993, in his book “A Torchlight For America,” the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan had already declared what the study realized over the last few years:

“By all measures–literacy, the drop out rate, test scores, plans to attend college and the cultivation of truth and principles among today’s youth–the school system has failed,” he stated in Chapter 4 “Fixing the Public School System (pg. 45).

Minister Farrakhan also defined education as the proper cultivation of the gifts and talents of the individual through the acquisition of knowledge. After self-cultivation, education is to teach one how to give proper service to self, family, community, nation and then to the world.

“The problem in today’s education is that the root motivation is the acquisition of wealth and material things rather than cultivation of the human spirit,” Minister Farrakhan wrote.

As civil rights activists, educators and students bemoan the fact that gains achieved by Brown have been turned back, today, it must be acknowledged that the proper and fair education of the masses of Black students in America has declined since the integration of schools.

Further on in Chapter 4 of “A Torchlight For America,” Minister Farrakhan explained that when Blacks gained the right to attend non-segregated schools to learn mathematics and sciences, Whites began running away fast, and in some cities, colleges transformed into vocational schools, teaching Blacks how to be carpenters, electricians and data processors instead of scientists, engineers and doctors.

In Point No. 9 of “What The Muslims Want,” which is found on page 39 of The Final Call newspaper, the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad offers a Divine solution:

“We want equal education–but separate schools up to 16 for boys and 18 for girls on the condition that the girls be sent to women’s colleges and universities. We want all Black children educated, taught and trained by their own teachers.

“Under such schooling system we believe we will make a better nation of people. The United States government should provide free, all necessary text books and equipment, schools and college buildings. The Muslim teachers shall be left free to teach and train their people in the way of righteousness, decency and self respect.”

Although the Johns Hopkins study found that the majority of predominately minority high schools with more resources performed similarly well to majority White schools, it also found that nearly 80 percent of the nation’s high schools that produce the highest number of dropouts hail from just 15 states: Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Texas.

The Reverend Karen Crozier, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor at Claremont School of Theology in California, does not believe that schools are providing all students with the knowledge that will enable them to compete in a modern, technological world.

“Black children are falling behind in every category: Reading, Math and Science. That is even with those who are officially identified as “second language learners” in this country–Hispanics and Southeast Asians–and especially in the state of California, where we have a higher density of both. So, the question has to come to teachers, principals, superintendents and states that have this glaring problem: How do we respond to the children who have been here the longest, but being served the least?” Rev. Crozier said.

Lack of resources undergird the U.S. education crisis and must be rectified, specifically in three primary areas: Classrooms, communities and homes. School districts have financial resources for books, equipment and supplies, but not all of them use the funding as allocated. Others insist that current budgets do not meet students’ needs.

Outside of the classroom, some children live in balanced, safe, well-stocked, secured households with family and community support, while others either live in, or have to walk to school through, communities plagued with gang violence and recruitment, police racial profiling, liquor stores and crack houses. In addition to these grim factors are also the threats of molestations or kidnapping by pedophiles; going to bed hungry most nights; and many living in homes with domestic violence or parents strung out on drugs, alcohol–or both.

Addressing these conditions is crucial to proper education and rearing of today’s youth.

Mike Chavez, Communications Director for Californians for Justice, a statewide organization that helps high school students and parents to gain a quality education, believes that school districts design models tailored specifically for children and their communities.

“Additional funding may need to go toward language programs for areas with more Latino students, for instance, and for high crime or poverty areas, more might go toward community safety, so that the students can learn,” he said.

Just as students need adequate supplies, modern textbooks, operable science labs and working bathrooms and lockers, they also need mentors. Rev. Crozier insisted that government has a role to play, but should not be viewed as the “end all, be all” to Black peoples’ salvation.

“I mean salvation in terms of our thriving for wholeness, for justice, for reparations that are due in light of what we have continued to experience in this country. We, especially those of us who have our degrees; our positions of power, we have to give back to our community because it is not us alone who have achieved these opportunities. It was the blood, sweat, lives and death of those who went before us and we must never forget,” Rev. Crozier explained.

As he warned 14 years ago in “A Torchlight For America,” Minister Farrakhan stated that the destruction of America’s educational system will result in the loss of her own status as a world power:

“Education is vital to each individual’s life chances and the quality of the society as a whole… If America does not wake up and recognize the consequences of perpetuating the current system of education, then the country’s fate is sealed. If America is unwilling to destroy the old system of education in order to create a new system of education, then America’s status as a world power will quickly fade away in a generation or so.”