Low graduation rates, like those at Central High School in Cape Girardeau, are cause for concern. Just under 60 percent of black students in the class of 2006 graduated, and 85 percent of white students. Both figures are below state and national averages. School officials cite poverty and the lack of parental involvement as critical factors. Some dropouts say peer pressure is a factor, along with becoming parents as teenagers.
More important than the statistics, however, are the efforts being made to improve the likelihood for success. Two programs are targeting both students and their parents.
One is the Leading and Inspiring Families to Excel program, or LIFE. The program includes a major component for students to help them make better decisions, solve problems and boost self-esteem. Another component is aimed at parents by getting them involved in the process. A third component is geared to counselors who work with families to improve home life.
Another is the THRIVE Initiative that promotes the Search Institute's 40 developmental assets framework in the community and encourages positive youth development. This program focuses on identifying ways for young people to succeed.
Programs like LIFE and the THRIVE initiative are beacons of hope in a stormy education sea. Contact the United Way of Southeast Missouri to learn how you can help.