Summit Keynote Speakers Believe Supports Work to Curb Dropouts

November 24, 2008

COLUMBIA – Two leading proponents of supports for young people – both inside and outside of the classroom – will be keynote speakers at South Carolina’s dropout prevention leadership summit on Tuesday, December 2, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center.

The meeting is the kickoff for Graduation Matters – South Carolina’s Dropout Prevention Initiative and is sponsored by the State Department of Education in partnership with America’s Promise, AT&T, State Farm Insurance, Palmetto Horizon, Personal Pathways to
Success and the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network.  

The speakers are Harold D. Brown, president and CEO of Outwork, who is working to transform large, struggling urban high schools in Ohio into smaller, more successful schools, and Dr. Pat Cooper, CEO of the Early Childhood and Family Learning Foundation in New Orleans, LA, who’s setting up community centers, child care and school health programs in at-risk neighborhoods.

Brown frequently speaks on key issues including high school reform, higher education and multicultural access. He says he works for education because he believes in its power.

Education is the key for quality of life and advancement for all people, especially those who are racially, culturally, and economically non-majority, Brown said.  Education opens doors to opportunities that otherwise might remain closed.

Cooper has 38 years of public education experience, including 13 years studying the effect of school health programs on student achievement.
Cooper says he’s found an extremely positive relationship, with significant documented gains in students’ academic, social and
emotional behavior influenced by coordinated school health.  

The South Carolina summit is among 100 in 50 states and 50 cities being supported by the America’s Promise Alliance.  The meetings are part of a nationwide effort to increase awareness and stimulate discussion of the dropout problem, encouraging collaboration and finding solutions for states and communities that want to improve student success.  Over 700 persons are registered for the Columbia event. 

Organizers said the summit will give participants suggestions for:
– Getting comprehensive and accurate graduation and dropout data

– Establishing early warning systems to identify potential dropouts

– Supporting parents’ participation and creating individualized graduation plans for students
– Helping struggling students to meet rigorous expectations

– Sharing results of research and best practices for dropout prevention.

Other topics to be discussed include schools as community learning centers; students who are over-age for grade; re-enrolling dropouts; mentoring; graduation coaches; afterschool programs and informal education; at-risk factors; proven exemplary programs; students with special needs; and national service as a way to keep students engaged and in school.