What About the Students Who Don’t Make it to Prom?

As students around the city celebrate their high school graduations or party at their proms, El Diario La Prensa reported on the thousands of students who didn’t make it though the city’s school system. The translation from Spanish is below.

Giancarlos Henríquez (Photo by Jose Acosta / El Diario La Prensa)

It’s not rare to see school-aged adolescents walking through the streets of the Bronx during hours when they should be in a classroom.

Around 12 percent of the 1.1 million students in New York’s public schools drop out each year, and close to 35 percent don’t finish high school on time, according to data recently released by the city and the state.

The reasons for students dropping out or falling behind vary. For example, Giancarlos Henríquez, a 16-year-old Dominican student from the Bronx, said he decided to leave school when he had two months left of 11th grade.

Henríquez listed reasons that included constant fights with classmates that harassed him and his teachers’ lack of understanding.

“Every time I went to school there was a group that messed with me, and when I fought they called the police,” said Henríquez. “I got tired of the whole situation and I decided not to go back any more.” He did not want to publish the name of the school that he left.

“I did well in school, but my teachers didn’t help me with the problems I had,” he explained. “Instead of giving me advice and giving the other students advice, they called the police on me. That’s why I left.”

Henríquez said that his parents always told him to behave well and not get mixed up in problems, but Henríquez pointed out, “They weren’t there to see what was happening.”

Henríquez’s greatest challenge now is finding a job or learning a trade. To achieve that, he said, he has prepared a resume and is looking for work in Manhattan or the Bronx, the borough with the highest rate of unemployment.

José Torres (Photo by Jose Acosta / El Diario La Prensa)

José Torres, a 20-year-old Puerto Rican, said he didn’t finish high school because of family problems.

“I started to miss school so I could help out my mother with household expenses,” said Torres. “Although I got a job at a supermarket, I was going to school regularly.”

Torres finally left high school this year in the eleventh grade after getting arrested for being involved in a fight in a train station. He spent three months in prison.

“I was listening to my iPod and three guys tried to take it from me. I fought them and I spent three months in jail,” said Torres. “I got out in May and now I’m trying to look for a job. I have asked my family to help me get into a program that will give me the opportunity to get ahead.”

Graduation – What’s That?

High school graduation rates in New York City stayed practically the same during the 2010-2011 school year, according to data released recently by the New York State Department of Education.

For the city’s students who received diplomas in June 2011, the graduation rate had been the same for four years, and dipped slightly from the previous year’s rate of 61 percent to 60.9 percent.

However, the graduation rate for students who received their diplomas in August climbed from 65.1 percent to 65.5 percent. Mayor Michael Bloomberg often says that the rise in the graduation rate since he took office proves that his education policy has worked.

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to compare the current graduation rates with those from before the mayor took office because different students were counted, including those who received the equivalent of a high school diploma by taking the GED.

Using such criteria, the city said that the graduation rate increased from 50.8 percent in 2002 to 70.8 percent this year. Bloomberg said at a press conference that however the graduation rate is measured, “it’s clear that more students in our schools are succeeding.”

One Comment

  1. sad statistics. Last Sunday, on CBS News Magazine, a few education experts chalked up the reason for non-graduating males as having the misguided ideals on being “male,” that to be considered a man (in certain communities) is to drop out of school, defy society. For many, education is for sissies.

    I don’t know if this is true or not, but certainly the cliche of “it starts from home” applies.

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