The state Education Department released the latest graduation rates earlier this month, and they're nothing to brag about.
The state standard for the graduation rate is 80 percent. In our local districts, only seven out of 12 met the state standard. The others had rates ranging from 61 percent in Amsterdam to 76 percent in Johnstown. Gloversville had a 64 percent rate, Northville had a 75 percent rate and St. Johnsville had a rate of 65 percent.
The state sets an "aspirational goal" of 95 percent, which is a reasonable percentage. Locally, only the Wells school district met that goal.
All school districts should focus on doing all they can to keep youths in school and see that they graduate after four years of high school. The burden can't lie entirely with the schools, however. Parents and guardians, regardless of whether they dropped out of school or graduated on time when they were young, should understand the need to pressure their children to stay in school and graduate after four years of high school.
Youths who drop out have little chance of making a good living. The largest percentage of the unemployed are high school dropouts. Dropouts also make up a higher percentage of the nation's prison inmates.
People who fail to graduate often end up with jobs that offer little money or satisfaction. In many cases, they will struggle for the rest of their lives to make ends meet.
Schools face many challenges. Bringing the graduation rate to 95 percent may be one of the toughest, but clearly one of the most important.