By Fernando Torres |Staff Writer|
The Inland Empire (IE) community faces a high school dropout rate of over 50 percent, in which nearly 80 percent of the school age population is African American and Latino
“These numbers are pretty devastating,” said CSUSB Assistant Professor Dr. Louie Rodriguez.
The Participatory Research Advocating for Excellence in Schools Inland Empire (PRAXIS) tries to raise awareness on the matter.
PRAXIS IE was a research project lead by Rodriguez, who also served as principal investigator, and conducted interviews, gathered data from surveys, and observations to try and understand why minorities are failing high school.
On April 19 Rodriguez and his research team presented their findings and research at the “Our Journeys, Our Voices: Defining a Quality Education for Colton and Beyond” event held at Colton High School to a group of about 250 that included current and former Colton High students, parents, school administrators, and teachers.
Rodriguez explains his reasoning behind the project, “This research was about finding out why so many students are dropping out but also trying to solve the problem.”
Rodriguez himself a Colton High School alumni, says that the numbers were devastating.
“I am from the community and because so many students are dropping out of high school we are losing out on talent,” said Rodriguez.
At the event PRAXIS research team presented their findings, but also used it as a forum to feature high school students who have taken an active approach to their high school education.
Rodriguez in his speech presented statistics on the dropout rate of Latinos in high school, in the IE, such as two thirds of children lack pre-school programs.
He also talked about the external factors for high dropout rates such as having low political power, low health care, high unemployment of families.
Rodriguez stressed the importance that the community has in providing quality high school education.
“The community, which includes parents and mentors, should motivate these high school students to graduate high school and pursue higher education,”said Rodriquez.
The event was not just a presentation of statistics here in the IE, but to encourage Colton High School students to present their cases on how they believe their high school can improve their education.
Each of the three groups of students presented their research findings and based on those findings presented ways of improvement.
The groups suggested ways to discipline students, how the school counselors can help guide the students toward higher education, and how teachers can improve the quality of teachers and how they teach and interact with students.
Colton High School teacher Stephan Silveira said the event was not meant to charge school officials for the dropout rates, but as the student’s way of asking for help to have better quality education in their school.
“The schools need to get students to learn, think, and create dialogue, because just testing them is not enough,” said Rodriguez.