Today Logan, my Emory partner, came in for his weekly observation. During a lull, he asked if I’d heard the statistic that only 51% of students in Atlanta Public Schools graduate from high school. He was shocked by this statistic- and rightly so. However, this is a statistic that we teachers hear almost daily, so I wasn’t at all taken aback by it. After he left, I started thinking about the difference in our reactions. It’s not that I’ve gotten complacent, but facts like that don’t have the same impact on me that they used to. The problem is, they should! As I look at my 19 first graders, there is no way I would want to pick 9-10 students who not only won’t go to college, but won’t even graduate high school. Unfortunately, that is what the statistics say will happen.
At this point in the year, teachers are exhausted. We are inundated with data to remind us of previous years’ failures; we are realizing that we are behind on our curriculum maps just over a month before state testing; and our students are at least as burnt out as we are. Long story short, it can be easy to get caught up in the day to day work and forget about what really brought us into the classroom in the first place. We don’t teach just so students can learn the state standards. We teach, because we want to set our students up for success- not just on their weekly assessments or state tests, but throughout their academic careers and beyond. We teach, because we want to shape our students as people and have a positive and lasting impact on their life’s trajectory. We teach, because a 51% graduation rate is unacceptable.
I am so grateful that there is a fresh pair of eyes in my classroom, another person who is invested in my students’ education. A 51% high school graduation rate is absolutely unacceptable and should be infuriating each time I hear it. With just over 10 weeks left in the school year, it is more important than ever that I put the conscious effort in every day to ensure that I am preparing my students for success, not just next year, but throughout their entire academic careers. My students deserve better than 51%, and I owe it to them to give that to them.