Most dropout rates show steady decline

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The most fundamental building block of any community is education.

Better educated people are desired more by good employers. They commit fewer crimes. They tend to make more money and contribute more to the community’s quality of life. They take better care of themselves, pay more taxes and create more stable homes.

In short, they’re more likely to be the kind of people we want to have as neighbors, friends and co-workers.

By that measure, North Carolina’s school systems are doing more to produce that kind of people. The high school dropout rate for 2011-12 was the lowest in history – 3.01 percent, statewide.

The dropout rate for Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools increased slightly from 4.47 percent in 2010-11 to 4.68 percent in 2011-12. The rate for Edgecombe County Public Schools fell from 4.92 percent in 2010-11 to 4.81 percent in 2011-12. The information for this editorial came from a report prepared for the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

The better news regarding the Twin Counties is that both systems have made significant strides during the past five years. In 2007-08, the dropout rate in Edgecombe County schools was 6.83 percent. In Nash-Rocky Mount, the 2007-08 dropout rate was 6.76 percent.

While the Twin Counties’ numbers still aren’t where we all would like to see them, teachers, students, parents and other educators deserve a great deal of credit for the improvements they have made.

Four students dropped out of Rocky Mount Preparatory School in 2011-12, compared to one in 2010-11. It’s more meaningful to look at actual numbers rather than percentages in a school the size of Rocky Mount Prep.

It’s virtually impossible to land a good job in this age without a high school diploma. The more graduates our schools produce, the brighter the future for the rest of our community.