Like many other cities across the nation, Oakland, Calif., is struggling to find a solution for its alarming dropout rates.
It's a city with startling contrasts of wealth, boasting charming hillside neighborhoods with bay views and good schools. Still, 45 percent of Oakland children don't attend Oakland public schools.
According to Tony Smith, school superintendent, only about half those enrolled graduate from high school.
"I think we haven't designed schools and the education system in ways that really meet the needs of all young people, in particular children of color," he said.
This is an issue educators and nonprofit groups have been trying to figure out for decades. Although it's not the solution to all problems, after-school programs such as Techbridge seem to be making an impact.
Techbridge, a science-based after-school program based in Oakland, shows hundreds of female students a path to pursuing careers in science and technology, while also trying to minimize the chances of them dropping out of school.
"A lot of the girls that we work with never think about becoming an engineer or being a computer programmer. For girls from more disadvantaged areas and under-resourced schools, they do have less access to role models. They haven't met an engineer. They haven't met somebody in computer programming who could say what great jobs there are in these fields," said Techbridge founder, Linda Kekelis.
Students like Ebony Green find the program interesting.
"I never knew about soldering, or I never knew about crystals or anything like that. And since I'm interested in that, I wanted to get into a program where there's a lot about it," she said.
Although Ebony faces economic and social hardships, she is thinking of a bright future, one laced with scholarships and the opportunity to go to college.
In the last 11 years, 3,000 girls have taken part in Techbridge. For Ebony, the program may be the nudge she needs to stay in school.
"Even kids who don't have the best academic skills, when they get their hands on something, they realize they can understand it. And understanding it excites them." - Claude Steele, dean at Stanford School of Education.
"I think we haven't designed schools and the education system in ways that really meet the needs of all young people, in particular children of color." - Tony Smith, Oakland Schools superintendent.
1. What is a drop out?
2. What is the dropout rate in your school?
1. Why do students typically drop out of school?
2. What is your school doing to keep students engaged in school?
3. Generally, what career options do high school dropouts have available to them?
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