Gail Torreano, president of AT&T Michigan, recently wrote in the Detroit Free Press about the nation’s drop-out problem, especially among African American, Hispanic, and American Indian students.
“Dropping out is not a victimless choice affecting just the person who decides to leave school,” she says. “That choice impacts each and every one of us. Studies have shown that students who are unprepared to enter college cost the economy $3.7 billion annually in lost earnings and remedial education.”
AT&T has partnered with the United Way to create a four-year, $100 million program focused on high school retention and workplace readiness. The reason? Statistics show that high school drop-outs are more likely to be jobless, poor, have health problems, or be incarcerated.
Similar partnerships are necessary in Indian Country between corporations, the tribal colleges, and schools. But the task needs to begin before high school, starting as early as elementary school. Children need to see that college is an option, and internalize the idea that they can succeed. It’s our job to start this dialog, for the seven generations.