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.
Readers’ Forum: Aug. 1, 2014
• Oppose killing, vote for peace
• Unbiased truth of property taxes
• Bravos for plays by young thespians
RONN MOTT: Disc Jockeys
I know this is going to sound a little like “sour grapes,” but it is not. I just passed my 61st anniversary of being involved in radio. I also spent some television time in Canada and did a local TV talk show. But, my main effort was in the good old USA in various radio markets.
EDITORIAL: Greater course loads can mean quicker degrees
The impact of Indiana’s low education attainment level shows up in Hoosiers’ paychecks.
The state ranks 40th in the U.S. in the percentage of residents with college diplomas.
Readers’ Forum: July 31, 2014
• Stamp of approval
• Great job, WAXI
- Readers’ Forum: July 30, 2014
RONN MOTT: Colonoscopy No. 5
I just finished up my fifth colonoscopy last week. It had been seven years since my last one, and since my father and grandfather died of colon cancer I find it advisable to go through this procedure in attempting to live as long as I can.
Readers’ Forum: July 29, 2014
• Anything goes with the liberals
• Deserter does not deserve discharge
• Outrage lacking on IRS scandal
LIZ CIANCONE: Next century? Hope strikes out again for ‘our’ team
It is a case of hope trumping experience that my Best Friend and I looked forward to the 2014 baseball season.
Readers’ Forum: July 28, 2014
• Tea party folks misunderstood
• We have only us to blame
MARK BENNETT: Hall of Memories: Names, images of baseball greats trigger connections to our own past
Baseball Hall of Famers are just people. Totally human. Still, for Americans who follow the national pastime, those players represent a nostalgic connection to summers gone by.
Editorial: Community support crucial for workers facing layoffs
The loss of 150 jobs impacts people — the employees themselves, their families and the community. They need the support of loved ones, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, clubs and local service groups in the search for new work and clarity amid the uncertainty.
- Readers' Forum: July 27, 2014
Flashpoint: Why incumbents keep getting re-elected
Nearly three-quarters of Americans want to throw out most members of Congress, including their own representative, yet the vast majority of incumbents will be returning to Capitol Hill in January.
Flashpoint: Spreading the good word about marriage equality
If you blinked over the past month, you probably missed some news about marriage equality in Indiana.
Ronn Mott: Gaza 2014 — hatred lives on
The rockets’ red glares have turned Gaza, part of the Palestinian authority, into a battleground with Hamas, a legislative terrorist organization that has been stockpiling armaments to use against Israel for years.
- Readers’ Forum: July 25, 2014
RONN MOTT: The Czar of Russia
If you are expecting Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Republic, to react to the crisis in the Ukraine as an ordinary elected official, think again. Even though Putin is the President of the Russian Republic, this is not the job he wants. Putin also doesn’t want to be the chairman of a newly resurrected Communist Party in Russia. No, what he wants is to be the czar of a greater Russia.
Readers’ Forum: July 24, 2014
• Clinic will expand basic health access
• Misunderstanding truth about Islam
EDITORIAL: Work program needs industry buy-in
Good help is hard to find. That’s essentially what Indiana companies have insisted for several years. The state struggles with a “skills gap,” the firms explain. They need employees, but can’t find enough — or in some cases, any — qualified Hoosiers. Businesses say too few applicants possess the “soft skills,” such as showing up for work on time or being able to effectively communicate with co-workers.
- Readers’ Forum: July 23, 2014
RONN MOTT: Dragonfly
The other morning I was moving the canister that holds our recycling material out to the curb when I saw a strange sight. What I saw was a dragonfly fighting with a bee.
FLASHPOINT: News about reality, not affirmation
The public’s trust in the news media keeps dwindling. At the same time, Americans’ political polarization keeps increasing.
LIZ CIANCONE: Chickens as pets always turned out same way
I suppose many of us who grew up on farms or in small towns adopted unusual pets. I had a fondness for chickens. My folks always kept a few chickens, not only to fry or roast, but also for the eggs.
Readers’ forum: July 22, 2014
• Supt. Ritz has right to govern
• A tribute to a teacher
• Rep. Pelosi shows ‘bungling idiocy’
Readers’ forum: July 21, 2014
• Theater brings the joy of music
• Drawing closer to the spirit
• Give some space to heterosexuals
MARK BENNETT: Former Terre Hautean Jim Lovell stood ready as Neil Armstrong’s backup on Apollo 11
The words “Apollo 11” stir optimism in me.
I was an elementary school kid growing up in Vigo County when Neil Armstrong put the first footprint on the moon on July 20, 1969. So much seemed possible
EDITORIAL: Vigo Jail study essential to determine strategy
It comes as encouraging news that the Vigo County Council might include in its 2015 budget significant funding for an expert and neutral study of what can be done to replace or enhance the existing county jail.
Readers’ forum: July 20, 2014
• ‘Hotel Indiana’ has a sour tune
• Kind words about the newspaper
• Some questions about RTL video
• No mercy for cop killers
• Crack down on gun violence
• Anti-Dem tirades mask GOP failures
• Important day for participants
• Appreciation for support
FLASHPOINT: Solve our border crisis
More than 60,000 unaccompanied alien children — mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador — have been apprehended on America’s southern border during this fiscal year.
RONN MOTT: World Cup over, but it was fun
After many weeks and many games, the World Cup is over. While the world calls it “futbol,” only we in North America play another brand of football. It is very simple to understand why this is the world’s favorite game … all it takes is an empty lot, a round soccer ball, and you can get a futbol game together.
- More Opinion Headlines
- Readers’ Forum: Aug. 1, 2014