Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Glynn Offering Dropouts a Second Chance in School Adult Education Center Opens Way to Brighter Future

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Glynn Offering Dropouts a Second Chance in School Adult Education Center Opens Way to Brighter Future

Article excerpt

BRUNSWICK -- James Raulerson bounced between a variety of public, private and alternative schools before dropping out during the seventh grade.

"My old teachers, they acted like they didn't want to be bothered and they didn't really help you. I failed four times," Raulerson recalled.

Tawana Seals, a single mother raising two children, was a junior when she abandoned high school a decade ago amid family problems.

"Nobody ever told me that I had to go to school to be something. I didn't understand how important school was," she said.

Both Raulerson, 17, and Seals, 27, are back in a classroom. They are students at the Glynn County Adult Education Center in Brunswick working toward earning a General Educational Development diploma.

The diploma is a first step, both say, to what they hope will be a brighter future.

"I want to join the Air Force," Raulerson said. He is a sandwich shop worker who has advanced academically from a sixth-grade to an 11th-grade level since enrolling in August.

Seals wants to become an X-ray technician, and make sure that her 9-year-old son and 7-year-old daughter have the opportunities an education can provide.

"I want them to stay in school and have a better life," she said.

The two former dropouts are not alone.

Georgia has one of the worst high school dropout rates in the nation, ranking 49th nationwide in the percentage of students who complete high school, education statistics show.

State education officials question the accuracy of that statistic. They say the criteria used to classify a student as a dropout is too general and doesn't consider students who simply move into another school system or later return to complete their education.

Nonetheless, Glynn County and other public school districts statewide are exploring ways to prevent students from dropping out.

In addition, the federally funded Glynn Adult Education Center and its satellite campuses in neighboring Camden and McIntosh counties are helping dropouts in Southeast Georgia resume their education.

"Our students are older. Many have kids and jobs. They have come to a crossroad where they don't know what they want to do but they know that they want something better. We're here to help them achieve their goals," said Yvette Romec, a teacher at the Glynn center.

RATES QUESTIONED

The Georgia Department of Education's annual report card lists a dozen categories for students reported as dropouts: marriage, expulsion, financial hardship, incarceration, low grades or academic failure, removal for chronic absences, military service, pregnancy, serious illness or injury, enrollment in adult education/post-secondary programs and unknown.

Amanda D. Seals, an education department spokeswoman, said Georgia's dropout rate might not really be as high as it appears in national statistics.

"You need to look from school system to school system. Did the student fail, get discouraged and quit school altogether? Or did they just move, join the military or enroll in a private school?" said Amanda Seals, who is not related to Tawana Seals.

Georgia education officials have no way to determine what happens to students once they leave a school system, she said.

"There is no tracking system to show how many students actually return to school somewhere, either in another county, state or enter an adult education or vocational training school," Amanda Seals said.

She said the state's dropout rate also is affected by the growing immigrant population.

"We see a lot of migrant workers with children," said Amanda Seals, noting that those students might be enrolled in different school systems throughout the year because their families must travel to find work.

Another factor to consider when comparing dropout rates statewide, Southeast Georgia educators said, is whether there are any magnet schools, charter schools or vocational training programs in the school system. …

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