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‘Act now’ dropout ads target parents

‘Act now’ dropout ads target parents

New York Daily News 10/8/2007

By Frank Lombardi

A radio ad campaign to help reduce the dropout rate among city high school students is being launched today, but its target audience isn’t the kids – it’s their parents.

“I’m sure many parents out there feel once a young person has gone to the high school level, maybe they don’t need as much parental involvement or supervision or engagement,” said Carry Goodman, whose youth advocacy organization devised the campaign.

“That’s absolutely not the case,” added Goodman, executive director of Directions for Our Youth. “We need parents to know when parent-teacher night is. We need parents to be involved in back-to-school week. We need parents to know their children’s teachers, and how to help ensure that they don’t become part of the dropout problem.”

The ad campaign starts today over three radio stations with largely Hispanic or African-American audiences, the two demographic groups with the highest high school dropout rates in the city – WBLS (107.5 FM); La Mega (97.9 FM)/Amor (93.1 FM), and POWER 105 (105.1 FM).

The first ads will spotlight the availability of free tutoring at select high schools throughout the city, developed and funded by the city’s Education Department.

“Act now,” parents will be told and instructed to call their children’s high schools. “Free tutoring can help your child pass their classes and prepare to graduate.” Tutoring starts on Oct. 15.

Ads airing for several weeks will focus on the Education Department’s back-to-school week, Oct. 15-17, and then on urging parents to meet their children’s teachers and get more involved in their education.

Among the elected officials actively supporting the campaign is Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, who said the dropout problem has been studied repeatedly, and that the time has come “to move forward with solutions.”

“I’m tired of rhetoric,” said Carrión, whose borough has the worst high school dropout problem in the city.

Goodman said about 20,000 high school students drop out each year, and 40% are Bronx students. “The Bronx is at the epicenter of the dropout crisis in New York City schools,” he said.

There are multiple and difficult causes for the dropout problem, and school and other officials long have struggled to find solutions. But the involvement of parents is considered critical to stemming the problem, according to City Councilman Joel Rivera (D-Bronx), who co-sponsored a $4.3 million City Council budget dropout initiative that is helping fund the radio ads.

“We need to send a message that we’re not going to tolerate 20,000 kids dropping out of school,” Rivera said in support of the radio ad effort. “I want to urge parents – get involved!”