A May 22 editorial in the Detroit News discusses an effort underway in Detroit to stop the “tragic tidal wave of dropouts” that plagues the city. It focuses on young men from the Class of 2010 who attend Detroit’s University Prep Academy and have committed to going to college and coming back to Detroit to change the culture of the city and help in its revival.
According to a recent report from the America’s Promise Alliance that was prepared by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, Detroit’s graduation rate is only 24.9 percent, a figure that ranks it worst among the nation’s fifty largest cities.
“It’s time for the young men in our city to get off the streets, get in school, and get a future,” says sophomore David Miller.
Student Ronald Ruffin, according to the editorial, pledged to convince his peers not to fall for the surface allure of drug dealing and fast money. “We all understand that they have a lot of flash, but it’s just a front,” he said. “They may have a wallet full of cash, but they live with their mothers and end up dead or in jail.”
He points out that college graduates earn as much as $1 million more in their lifetimes than high school dropouts and are more attractive to women. “No jail time, more money, more women—it’s not such a hard choice,” he said.
The editorial notes that the campaign is part of a “larger philosophy” at University Prep Academy, a charter public school that opened in 2000 and has promised to graduate over 90 percent of its students and send 90 percent of them to college. As part of their effort, the young men have already started to engage students at three city high schools in conversations about staying in school. To foster social ties, this summer, they also want to host a talent show.
“In a city where more young men are dropping out than staying in school, Detroit’s transformation demands nothing less than a cultural upheaval, a social movement that must begin in the hearts and homes of the city’s young people and their families,” the editorial reads.