12/29/09 — GHS at risk: Reversing a struggling school's problems means facing up to what's wrong

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GHS at risk: Reversing a struggling school's problems means facing up to what's wrong

There have been some sad consequences of the concerns that have been raised about Goldsboro High School.

First, some of the people who have fought the hardest to get more attention paid to the inner city schools have faced derision because they spoke the truth about the problems at some of those schools. The criticism is not deserved and is misdirected.

And, second, there are some people who do not seem to understand that the way to address the concerns surrounding not only Goldsboro High School, but other schools in the county, is to address the circumstances and the realities head-on.

Goldsboro High School is not being attacked -- and no one is saying that every student who attends the school is headed for a life of failure and is a dropout risk.

There are some good students at the school, teens who are self-motivated and determined to make something of themselves. And there are also children who come from homes where education is not just a priority, it is mandatory, and who have parents who are pushing them to secure the building blocks they need to achieve their dreams.

Those are the students we do not have to worry about.

But, unfortunately, that is only a little more than 60 percent of the school.

The other 30-some percent are facing the risk of not graduating, are dropouts or have no interest in education at all -- and those are the students that are causing many people to worry about Goldsboro High.

The comments that there are bad students everywhere are true. There are.

And perhaps the number of discipline problems in other schools might be significantly worse.

But the reality is that test scores and graduation rates tell a story of a school that is trying to reach students who do not seem to be listening -- and who are slipping through the cracks. And those numbers are higher at Goldsboro than anywhere else.

So how does a community respond to that reality?

There are two ways: Build up the school's self-image and focus on the students who are succeeding or address the challenges that affect education at Goldsboro High School head-on.

The more responsible choice is the latter.

There are problems at Goldsboro High. There are students who live in terrible circumstances and who have questionable role models. There are teenagers who think there is no way out of the life they lead except through drugs. And there are students who are becoming mothers much too young.

All that means that there are plenty of students who do not have the support, the resources or the means to change their lives.

Those problems exist in many schools, but if Goldsboro is going to increase its graduation rate and send more students into the job world or on to an advanced education, its cheerleaders and its critics have to deal with those realities.

For those who love the school and whose experience ended in a diploma and a good life, those words are hard to hear.

But if they truly care about the school and want to see its reputation turn around, they won't do it by running from the criticism. They will do it by facing the issues head-on and starting there. They will organize a real task force designed not to improve the school's public image, but to send more students to the podium on graduation day.

Goldsboro High is not a lost cause. Not as long as there are people who care enough about it to fight for its future -- no matter how hard the truth is to hear.

Published in Editorials on December 29, 2009 12:30 PM