09/23/07 — Dropout rate topic of public meeting

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Dropout rate topic of public meeting

By Bonnie Edwards
Published in News on September 23, 2007 2:05 AM

A mother pleaded with lawmakers Saturday to fund a program that would motivate her dropout son to go back to school.

"Please, I do not want this program to fall," Tridecia Campbell told State Reps. Louis Pate of Wayne County and Larry Bell of Sampson County during a public hearing they and other state representatives held Saturday at the H.V. Brown Center on Poplar Street.

This was one of several hearings being held throughout the state as part of a dropout reform initiative in the N.C. House of Representatives.

Ms. Campbell was one of several speakers who addressed the lawmakers. About 100 people attended the hearing, which was part of the second annual Youth Empowerment Forum sponsored by Alot of Direction Love and Affection, a grant-funded corporation formed to help youngsters like Ms. Campbell's son.

ADLA provides Structured Day, an educational and behavioral intervention training and monitoring service for youths who are suspended from school or who are referred to the program by the court. The organization also does training and testing for the GED.

Saturday's audience included people who work with several area programs for youths. One of them, One to One with Youth, is coordinated by Monique Whitehead.

Ms. Whitehead told the lawmakers her program needs money for transportation and programs to motivate children "to pursue options besides a degree."

Skill training is badly needed in Wayne County, said Danny King, the executive director of ADLA.

"All children are not going to college," he said. "We need plumbers. We need carpenters."

He said he was unable to find a single black plumber in Wayne County, and he could only find one licensed black electrician.

Skill training in construction and the culinary arts is among the components in the ADLA program, which benefits hundreds of children aged 10 to 17 each year.

King said the programs "meet the youths where they are to move them into the workforce or back into high school."

Structured Day takes up an entire wing of the old Dillard school complex, where Wayne County Public School teachers provide in-kind services. The rest of the budget comes from the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council.

Many dropouts end up in prison, and Department of Corrections retiree Mary Rhoe said she is tired of hearing talk of building more prisons. More needs to be done to prevent the problem of prison overcrowding, she said.

"If we had more programs like ADLA, the prisons would not be full," she said.