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The Dropout Dilemma: Keep kids till 18 and beef up staff, panel urges

The Dropout Dilemma: Keep kids till 18 and beef up staff, panel urges

Daily News 2/24/2007

By Michael Saul and Carrie Melago

Making students stay in school until they’re 18 and pumping up the number of guidance counselors were among the proposals yesterday at a brainstorming session on how to cut the city’s high dropout rate.”

Clearly, today’s dropout summit helped us to focus in on the problem,” said City Council Education Committee Chairman Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights). “All of us are responsible to ensure that our children, the children of New York, receive a good education.”

The city puts the four-year high school graduation rate at 58.2%, a number state officials suggest is inflated.

Advocates at the Baruch College event suggested that increasing the state’s compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 would encourage more students to stay in school, said Cary Goodman, executive director of Directions for Our Youth.

Other ideas included additional professional development for teachers who may have difficulty relating to the problems facing city teens.

The findings from yesterday’s summit will be examined at a City Council hearing on the dropout crisis later this spring.
Earlier this week, a poll by the Community Service Society found that more New Yorkers are concerned about the dropout problem than about terrorism and crime.

When asked at a separate briefing about the problem yesterday, Mayor Bloomberg acknowledged that the city has work to do but credited the new small schools initiative with improving the graduation rate in recent years.

“We are making the schools more interesting for kids, more relevant for the kids. Reducing crime in the classroom makes a difference. Kids feel better about going to class,” he said.