TERRE HAUTE —
Getting more young people to graduate from high school is a complicated task.
That effort exemplifies the broader challenge of revitalizing the community surrounding those schools. Thus, news that Vigo County schools have raised the district’s graduation rate from 73.4 percent in 2007 to 92.2 in 2012 merits more than applause, which is indeed due. That improvement process should serve as a roadmap for Terre Haute to overcome its greatest obstacles.
The Vigo County School Corp. graduation rate exceeded the state average of 87.9 percent and was the highest among the 10 largest districts making up the Indiana Urban Schools Association. Those niches are especially impressive given the overall graduation-rate improvement statewide, by 1.1 percent over last year and more than 10 percent since 2007, according to the Indiana Department of Education. The increase moves the state closer to the DOE goal of 90 percent graduation success. Vigo County is already there.
A cross-section of community members rolled up their sleeves to get these results, including educators, parents, students, VCSC staffers and board members, and as a group termed “community partners.”
In reality, the “community partners” should include all of us. The problems Vigo County schools face in raising its percentage of students earning a high school diploma are largely the same ones the city and county must conquer to become the best community in Indiana by 2020.
A prime difficulty in pushing a teenager to meet graduation requirements is simply getting them to show up for class. Some students, Tanoos pointed out, had a staggering number of absences — 30, 40 and 50 days or more per year. Poor attendance also plagues the workforce. In an analysis of the “skills gap” last month, local employers and job training groups mentioned the lack of “soft skills” as a key reason many people struggle to meet the requirements to perform advanced manufacturing work. “Soft skills” include showing up to work on time, or showing up — period — as well as getting along with co-workers, behaving properly with those colleagues, and following instructions.
Vigo County’s high child poverty rate inhibits learning for kids whose only balanced meals come through school breakfasts or lunches. The institution of a “backpack” program in the district has given children from low-income homes a little extra food to take home on the weekends. Adults who don’t maintain a balanced diet probably under-perform at work, and risk losing their job. The healthy behaviors of adults living in this sector of Indiana — the 8th congressional district — ranks 424th out of 436 districts nationwide, according to the latest Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index.
Do those behaviors — smoking rates, eating habits, lifestyle choices — matter? Well, in a community with five institutions of higher learning, the unemployment rate in Terre Haute has steadily remained at or near the highest among Indiana metropolitan areas since the recession ended (statistically) in 2009.
The district has used two alternative schools to redirect troubled kids toward class work and graduation. The proper support and environment lacking in some of those students’ lives are likely missing in the lives of some adults who end up on the wrong side of the law. Each young person steered away from those pitfalls and toward learning, from the K-through-12 schools to college or technical training, doubly benefits us all.
High school graduation is a starting point in life, not a finish line. The community should be thankful for the improved preparation young people have received through the school corporation’s efforts, and should be committed to maintain that standard year after year. The schools have proven that our problems can be addressed.
Grad-rate increase good news for Vigo
TERRE HAUTE —
Getting more young people to graduate from high school is a complicated task.
Noteworthy in the news: Another landmark for Pat Rady
A few weeks ago, Pat Rady embarked on his 50th year as a head basketball coach. Last weekend, he punctuated his landmark season at Cloverdale High School in Putnam County with the 724th victory of his stellar career, a mark that makes him the second winningest coach — and tops among active coaches — in Indiana basketball. It’s a remarkable achievement, and he appears to be going strong.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 11, 2013
RONN MOTT: Seeds from the same tree
Mahatma Gandhi, who was born in India before the turn of the 20th Century, went to England to study law and decided to settle in South Africa, and he did for 20 years. His work in South Africa was involved in the right of his Indian neighbors to have equal access to civil rights. He also worked for the indigenous people as well. When the people of India became restive during the early days of World War I, Gandhi came home.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 10, 2013
• Proud of diploma from McLean HS
• Sports could use drone’s eye view
• Another great downtown fest
• ISU’s silence is disappointing
MS. TAKES: Important date passes by without much notice
Recently we were asked to share our memories of the Kennedy assassination. Folks were interviewed for television or radio, or were asked to recall exactly what they were doing when they got word that our president had been murdered.
GUEST EDITORIAL: Lack of vaccinations puts children, community at risk
U.S. vaccination programs appear to have become a victim of their own success. Because many parents have never experienced the effects of childhood diseases such as mumps or measles — let alone polio — they don’t always appreciate the health risks the diseases pose and the continuing need for vaccinations.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 9, 2013
Remove politics from education
FLASHPOINT: Dealing with hunger requires less rhetoric, more action
In November, millions of families in Indiana and across the nation saw their Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits cut through a planned phase-out of a temporary increase in funding that originally took place during the 2009 recession.
READER FORUM: Dec. 8, 2013
• Diving in to pool project
• A timely review of food basics
• Name-calling shows sad state of our politics
• Republicans their own worst enemy
• Full attack on common sense
EDITORIAL: Refusing to accept injustice, Mandela made world a better place
Injustice seldom ceases easily. Humans rationalize entrenched systems of persecution. Oppressed people or ideas get painted as a danger to the peaceful social order — the status quo. Cast in that image, inequality appears acceptable, even necessary, to the masses.
Time for a tour?
There’s an essay-type question that shows up on history exams, college applications, “Saturday Night Live” skits and quite possibly requests for platinum credit cards.
GUEST EDITORIAL: Congress now free from the threat of too much work
The headline on the Congress-watching newspaper Politico said it all: “Done.”
RONN MOTT: A friend celebrates his 90th
I went to Charlie Fox’s 90th birthday party Sunday last. He was standing greeting people as they came in the door. I never saw him sit down even one time. He looked more like a man celebrating his 60th rather than his 90th.
Editorial: Bring on the ‘Miracle’
For five miraculous years, Terre Haute’s Christmas festival on a Friday night in early December has grown and prospered.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 6, 2013
RONN MOTT: Cigars
Leaving Baesler’s Market the other day, making my round of errands, I started to re-light my cigar. It was left over from the day before and I did not place it in the humidor. It had gotten too dry, so I threw it into my garbage sack asking myself the question, “Why do I do this?” Well, I do it because I enjoy it.
TRIBUNE-STAR EDITORIAL: Changing attitudes demand GOP action
From all indications, the Republican Party’s legislative leadership will punt away in its next session the opportunity to make a good decision on behalf of all Hoosiers about placing a same-sex marriage ban in the state’s constitution.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 5, 2013
• Anarchy is in the ‘tea’ leaves
Editorial: Help us spread holiday cheer
The kind and generous people of the Wabash Valley are called upon often to help those less fortunate. We are proud to live an area where that call never goes unanswered.
- Readers’ Forum: Dec. 4, 2013
RONN MOTT: Cats, Inc.
I suppose we should give her a cake and a candle, but she would be happier with a handful of “treats” you can find wherever you shop for groceries. I’m talking about the two-year anniversary of the first cat we adopted. If we had known there were going to be more, her name probably would have been different. She was Orange Crush, a small, bedraggled, starving, Golden Tabby female that wandered into our yard a little after Thanksgiving. She had been badly maltreated.
MS. TAKES: Plenty of downsides to tree with candlelight
I had been spinning my wheels over Thanksgiving preparations the other day, so my Best Friend took me out for breakfast — a little luxury I never tire of. Our friend, Bill, stopped by our table to offer holiday felicitations and the conversation turned, as it often does this time of year, to Christmas.
READERS’ FORUM: Dec. 3, 2013
• Prestige chosen over practicality
• Tea partiers love country, freedom
• Same old clowns
LIZ CIANCONE: Plenty of downsides to tree with candlelight
I had been spinning my wheels over Thanksgiving preparations the other day, so my Best Friend took me out for breakfast — a little luxury I never tire of.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 3, 2013
Prestige chosen over practicality
Tea partiers love country, freedom
Same old clowns
EDITORIAL: For NESC, transparency best option
The five-member board of the Northeast School Corp. of Sullivan County is in the midst of tough times as it faces a difficult decision on the future of its schools, including Union High School in Dugger.
Readers’ Forum: Dec. 2, 2013
‘Ask not …’: Living by the words we speak
MARK BENNETT: ABA’s record proves Bobby Leonard’s a legit Hall of Famer
Bobby Leonard symbolized the feisty competitive flair of the old ABA.
EDITORIAL: Preserving, improving our parks
Few amenities more greatly affect the quality of life in Terre Haute than its public parks.
FLASHPOINT: Getting right with history
I am ornery enough to never much worry about whether I am on the “right” side of history.
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