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This a common American Story of economic boom-to-bust, with an unusual twist: an extraordinary group of leaders entered the picture to turn the tide by investing in children and their education. Petersburg was to be their model for the state, and perhaps the nation. Yet challenges remain enormous.
For more than a decade, Petersburg schools struggled, failed, and even lacked basic accreditation. Students dropped out in large numbers and faced tough times at home in one of the poorest communities in the state. Their future was bleak. Generations of children were lost.
When the superintendent of the neighboring district announced his retirement from a large, wealthy, successful district to act on his second doctorate in divinity, he was asked if he would consider instead running the poorest and lowest performing district in the state. This is that story, told through the struggles… and triumphs of 5 students we followed for a year.
Alan was recently interviewed by NPR’s Claudio Sanchez about children growing up fatherless in the US. See the full article at NPR: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2017/06/18/533062607/poverty-dropouts-pregnancy-suicide-what-the-numbers-say-about-fatherless-kids
You cite a U.S. Department of Education study that found 39 percent of students, first through 12th grade, are fatherless.
Fatherlessness is having a great impact on education. First of all, it’s growing, and the correlations with any number of risk issues are considerable.
Children are four-times more likely to be poor if the father is not around. And we know that poverty is heavily associated with academic success. [Fatherless kids] are also twice as likely to drop out.
Dropping out of school, growing up fatherless and incarceration appear to be connected. One study you cite from 2012 titled, “The Vital Importance of Paternal Presence in Children’s Lives,” shows that seven out of 10 high school dropouts are fatherless.
Do school officials acknowledge that this “chain reaction” clearly gets in the way of children’s academic success?
You know, I’ve been in this for 30 years, and when I speak to superintendents, social service people and counselors in schools, they’ll easily acknowledge that at the root of kids’ [academic] problems, is the lack of a relationship with their father.