Poor graduation rates, high unemployment are linked in Selma

Published 10:54pm Monday, June 24, 2013

Recent reports and news stories have provided a sad picture when it comes to the educational and economic picture of Selma and Dallas County.

In the past few weeks, the Alabama Department of Education has released a number of reports, reports that don’t show our local education systems in the best of light.

In one report, public high schools were shown to still have unacceptably poor graduation rates — even with a change in the statistical reporting that improved the numbers — and yet another that declared five area schools, four in the Dallas County system and one in the city system, as “failing.”

Last week, the unemployment figures for Alabama, and each county in the state, were released by the Department of Labor, showing Dallas County and two other Black Belt counties, as having the highest unemployment rate in the month of May.

Unfortunately, this was no surprise as the unemployment rate in Dallas County is a generational issue, where it has remained among the state’s worst for years.

To think these education reports and the unemployment report doesn’t have something to do with one another is ridiculous. They do.

If we continue to sit back and watch our children simply give up on their education, then we need to sit back and accept that our county will continue to have high unemployment, crime problems and everything that goes along with both.

And, from what it appears, many parents and guardians have — in the case of their child — accepted the reality that failing to get an education and remaining unemployed is the path of least resistance.

What we know is there is absolutely nothing our school administrators, teachers, coaches, janitors, school board members (those qualified to hold their position and those who aren’t) can do to make a child go to school, study and graduate.

That job lies squarely on the shoulders of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or whoever is in charge.

It is their job to ensure the next generation does better than they did, accomplishes more than they accomplished, gain the knowledge that will ultimately provide for themselves and their family.

As a community, we can no longer sit back and let our school officials do all the work. We must be involved in our children’s education, be involved in the operation of our schools and hold our children, and our school leaders, accountable for doing their job, whether that is being at school or ensuring the education provided to our children is extraordinary.

These reports, unfortunately, are nothing new for Selma and Dallas County. In a sad way, hearing about poor graduation rates and high unemployment figures is — in some ways — not even newsworthy.

Maybe we should challenge ourselves and our children to change what has always been and find ways to better ourselves, better our community.

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