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ERIC Number: ED312101
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1989-May-12
Pages: 5
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Jumping the Alligators in the Ditch.
Barber, Rims
Poor black young people in rural Mississippi contemplate their schooling with the same feelings as their friends who dare to jump the local ditches filled with alligators: the odds are against escaping the alligators, and the advantages of getting to the far side are not very apparent. Living in conditions of extreme poverty, these young people have few expectations for change in the future, and the school system reinforces their views. In Mississippi half the students attend schools that are on probation because they failed to meet the new accreditation standards. Some districts have financial difficulties. In others there is little concern for the nearly all-black public schools, as whites have set up their own private academies. There is a general attitude that the schools' job is to force kids to put in their time but to get rid of them if they cause trouble. The high school dropout rate exceeds 50% in one of every four districts and exceeds 75% in some districts. Students who get through to the end must pass a competency test to get a diploma. Only 20% of black graduates took the college preparatory curriculum; the rest find little opportunity for employment in small towns. They return to the shack they have called home and, like their parents, hope to get agricultural work. Giving these young people hope for the future requires: (1) attractive schools that foster students' self-worth and nurture their dreams; (2) public policy that improves family life, income, and housing; and (3) role models that help students see life as an opportunity to make something happen. (SV)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Mississippi