Education

In 2013 4,750 students dropped out of Kentucky high schools.  That’s enough students to fill the state’s largest high school, Henry Clay in Lexington, twice.

But it is also the lowest number of high school dropouts in Kentucky since 2009, and it’s a number that makes Hasan Davis hopeful.

Davis, a youth advocate and former state juvenile justice commissioner, was a high school dropout.  But he later got a GED and went on to graduate from law school at the University of Kentucky. Davis said Kentucky’s declining dropout rate “creates a sense of hope that people can stay on track and be self sustaining and support their families and communities.”

Davis is one of several people that found success after dropping out of school who will be featured in a documentary series set to air on KET in early October.  The series, “Dropping Back In,” looks to inspire people who have left school to get back on track in pursuing their education.

Series producer Marsha Hellard said: “We tell the stories of a number of people who have not only managed to graduate through a high school equivalency, in many cases people who have really flourished in their lives beyond that.”

She said people who choose to drop out and not go back to school have “trouble reaching for the American dream.”

In Kentucky, more than 750,000 adults aged 16 or older do not have their high school diploma or equivalent, according to 2010 U.S. Census Data information.

Related:  The GED Will Be Cheaper Next Year For Some Kentucky Students

“Sometimes education just doesn’t rise to the top of the list of important things in these people’s lives,” Hellard said.

Davis said people make the choice to quit pursuing an education for many reasons.

“They’re dropouts, they’re push outs, they’re pull outs and they’re fall outs,” he said.

Davis said the reasons students leave school may include undiagnosed learning disabilities, family crisis, lack of motivation to learn or excessive motivation to leave.

Davis said he believes the dropout rate will continue to fall.  In 2010, the state’s dropout rate was 3.2 percent.  In 2013, it was 2.4 percent.

“We, as a commonwealth, have made a commitment to keep this front of mind,” he said.

But he added it is a commitment that requires a constantly evolving conversation, and that the “Dropping Back In” series is just that, a new conversation about a long standing issue.

“It’s redoing the conversation about always having a ‘what’s next’ attitude and moving forward with hope,” he said.

The documentary airs at 9 p.m. Oct. 6 and Oct. 13 on KET.

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.