The continual lagging graduation rates at South Cobb and Pebblebrook High Schools seems to be a sad acceptable fact of life in the minds of administrators, parents and board members too quick to assign blame to working parents, single moms and “socio-economic” conditions.
This underperformance has been tolerated way too long. When the phrase “benign neglect” was used many years ago, I never thought it would still be practiced across the education landscape in Cobb. It has now gotten much too convenient to point to convenient reasons that have been blamed for over a decade.
School districts across the nation with clusters of demographics not dissimilar to South Cobb seem to be able to overcome the mindset that has kept our children on a treadmill of despair. Transiency, although real, is another convenient excuse that continues to be used to lay blame.
The funds CCSD entrusted to educate and graduate these kids is being wasted. The resulting lack of preparation of our children will become a burden on the economy in other ways. So it makes sense to try another set of remedies that tap into the natural curiosity of the fifth-and sixth-grade student to learn with methods applied by teachers and administrators that don’t view them as unworthy their time.
As Cobb School Board Chairman Randy Scamihorn said in the MDJ, “It is always easier to improve from poor to good to improve.” A culture change is long overdue within CCSD.
I am convinced that a fifth- and sixth-grader excited about learning will turn into a ninth-grader on a path to become a graduating senior. In order to accomplish this, I suggest a partnership be established as an external evaluation resource to CCSD to provide the required research-based support for an examination of the staff and administration culture so results contribute to a new paradigm of education incorporated into the Post 3 cluster initially and then district wide.
I repeat my thoughts shared with the board concerning locating a Career Academy in South Cobb. The recent graduation data gives added weight to the need and my argument. Major components of the CA curriculum installed in the South Cobb cluster can bring these benefits.
• An integrated curriculum and contextualized academics can improve student engagement in learning leading to graduation.
• Work-based learning and business involvement will broaden the boundaries of a traditional high school experience and provide reasons to stay in school.
• Students will be provided the opportunity to enrich and apply their academic coursework outside of the classroom, which can reduce risk of not graduating.
• STEM-driven courses will provide students the experience and skills needed to be “job ready” when they graduate.
A 76.5 percent Cobb graduation rate looks like progress, but 61 percent and 58.3 percent in South Cobb high schools looks like giving up.
Lawrence P. King