To the thousands of young people who are graduating from high school: Congratulations.
Congratulations, as well to the families and friends who have supported each of the graduates as they tackled algebra, world history, gym class and music theory. Despite the increasing importance society places on college degrees, a high school diploma remains a noteworthy achievement.
Credit also needs to be extended to the teachers, the principals, the coaches and all the other educational support staff that contributed to each student’s achievement. Educating a child is a community effort, one supported by everyone that serves on a school board, pays taxes, attends a high school football game or buys a raffle ticket to support the drama club.
But it’s hard to sit through any graduation ceremony and not think about the students who didn’t make it through. Graduation rates remain far too low in many local communities, including right here in the city of Schenectady.
According to the state Education Department, last year about three out of four students, 74 percent, who entered a New York state high school in 2007 graduated after four years. That percentage was 58 percent in Schenectady schools, 63 percent in Amsterdam and 56 percent in Gloversville.
Those numbers are clearly too low, especially when outlying suburban districts report graduation rates as high as 93 percent.
While troubled schools have long been working to address their low graduation rates, the fact remains that too many students are walking away from their education without a diploma.