Resident wants answers about county graduation rate

Published 11:49 am Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dear Editor,
The Georgia High School graduation rates were released from the Georgia Department of Education on Dec. 11, but as yet, there has been no release of our local percentage. A review of the data shows Georgia saw an overall improvement rate from 69.7 percent in 2012 to 71.5 percent in 2013; while here in Decatur County we went from 72.2 percent in 2012 to 71.8 percent in 2013. While that is little change, it still shows almost 30 percent of our high school students are not graduating, and that does not take into account those 16-year-old eighth graders who never made it to high school. What do you do in Decatur County to make a living without a high school diploma? What is the detrimental effect on our local economy? According to the latest data from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, the effect is millions of dollars.
What did our neighboring counties do? Grady’s was 76.4 percent, Seminole’s 77.9 percent, Early’s 74.7 percent and Mitchell and Miller each showed 69 percent. Please let me stress there is not a problem with the high school teachers — they can only do so much. This is a community and community leadership problem. These and past graduation rates prove that “bricks and mortar” [$54 plus million high school] do not improve graduation rates.
With surrounding counties with almost a 5 plus percentage point lead over us, what do we need to look at differently to see what they are doing and not doing? As we move into an election year, I hope we will not have the apathy we had in the last election, and people will hold our local elected school officials accountable.
John McRae

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