Obama Teams with Colin Powell to Combat High School Dropout Rate


By: Treasure White

One of the many platforms highlighted during President Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign included his promise to push for more educational reform. Education is another bipartisan battle that nearly equates with recent disputes over Healthcare reform. Last month, Obama united with America’s Promise Alliance, a cross-sector partnership of more than 300 corporations, organizations and advocacy groups for the well-being of children, especially in education.

A press conference was held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington, DC to unveil a new drop out prevention program named “Grad Nation campaign: Mobilizing America to End the Dropout Crisis.” Former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, a founding chair leads this initiative with his wife and current organization chair Alma Powell. This power couple has dedicated their efforts to dropout prevention since it’s founding in 1997.

The Grad Nation Campaign is set to work over a 10-year period to incorporate dropout prevention methods in “low-performing” communities using data generated by “promoting power” – a database approximating the amount of high school students graduating on-time in the United States. One startling statistic during this press conference emphasized that only 12% of high schools in the US account for 50% of all dropouts. Sadly, most if not all at risk high schools are located in communities populated by minorities.

During the press conference, President Obama called to attention that his main goal for this campaign is by 2020, having America lead the world-wide in the highest proportion of college graduates. Obama’s efforts are very admirable to this cause; however, realistically this campaign should be viewed as only scratching the surface of a long battle to reverse policies such as “No Child Left Behind Act” enforced by the Bush Administration. No Child Left Behind policy has popularly been criticized as a flawed system, utilizing culturally biased standardized test as a means to set educational standards. For poor performing schools, these test scores hindered the advancement of students to their appropriate grade level, not factoring in learning disabilities and non-remediation. Hopefully the Grad Nation Campaign will create the beginning steps to take educational reform to another level and redirect much needed funding and legislation to low performing school systems.

So what can we as individuals do to contribute to this campaign? The alliance proposes many areas of cooperation through volunteerism, and partnerships with organizations and businesses. America’s Promise Alliance stresses the importance of dedication to this cause, either solely or collectively; there are many ways to give back. To do your part, log on to the America’s Promise Alliance website http://www.americaspromise.org for more details.

Source: America’s Promise Alliance

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