Why should kids in low socioeconomic circumstancesgraduate?


Walking out of a restroom within the Petrified Forest National Park, I heard a raven (featured above) calling out and it stunned me with its loud, “Cawww.”  Ravens are interesting to me; they’re prolific and with the decaying state of our world, it’s no surprise that they flourish everywhere.  Each time I see a raven and hears its throaty call, I’m quite certain it’s a reminder to me that unless we as a community do something to develop our youth, our collective future will be in the hands of death-hunting ravens.

Tomorrow night, in Santa Fe, there’s a forum about improving the city’s graduation rate (The overall graduation rate in NM is 70%; in the Santa Fe District, it’s 64%).  I submitted a question: For kids who live in the bottom of SECs, what incentive does a high school diploma offer?  I wasn’t being cheeky; it’s just that when I talk with adolescents who are working on their GEDs as part of their substance abuse treatment program, there isn’t much point to getting a GED.  For them, it’s a way to get people off their backs, but the diploma has little value.  The bottom line is that there are no jobs available that can provide a future, diploma or not, and too many kids can’t see the point.

The classroom can provide a huge path for a bright future, but if a student doesn’t see that future as possible, it doesn’t exist.  Generational poverty and trauma plagues Northern New Mexico and I suspect it won’t go away any time soon.  Most people, adult or adolescent, whom I’ve treated don’t need CBT, or DBT, or Mindfulness training; they need resources.  They need stable housing, stable employment, and transportation.  I can safely say that if many of the people had those seemingly basic resources, they’d probably use drugs and/or alcohol a lot less. Surely, their anxiety levels would drop and they might even seem some possibility of developing a future.

But resources are clearly lacking in Santa Fe and within other places.  I’ve suggested (and will continue to suggest) that the City of Santa Fe partners with the local schools to provide internship programs such that our youth can gain real-world experience and marketable skills.  For example, information technology departments are always short-handed.  The City could partner with the local high schools and hire students taking computer classes or who have natural interests/abilities with computers as interns to fill gaps within its IT department.  It seems like a win-win and I know it works because I implemented a similar program with SFCC when I worked at the City.

It’s one idea, but one that’s continually ignored.  That’s fine, but if we don’t do something, graduation rates will be a lessening concern because there won’t be an economic future to which a kid can graduate.  The future will be the domain of the raven; death for our City will be the outcome.




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