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Published: Monday, 11/16/2009

Summit to tackle high school dropout rate


Educators, parents, and area youngsters are to join leaders from government, business, and foundations this week to try to improve graduation rates.

Toledo Dropout Prevention Summit, sponsored by the United Way of Greater Toledo, is to be held Thursday at the Dana Center on the University of Toledo's Health Science Campus, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, as part of a national campaign to cut high school dropout rates.

The event, the 81st of 105 planned across the country, is aimed at bringing together students and community leaders to devise strategies to keep teens from dropping out.

The summits are being coordinated by America's Promise Alliance, a Washington-based group founded by retired general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell to advocate for at-risk children.

The national campaign was launched in April, 2008, and is to conclude next year.

Summits have been held in Ohio in Cleveland and Cincinnati and are scheduled next month in Akron and in January in Columbus.

Colleen Wilber, a spokesman for America's Promise Alliance, said a communitywide approach to the issue is important because dropout rates affect health, the economy, tax revenue, and crime.

"It's just not a problem for the schools, parents, and young people," she said. "It is just as much an economic reform issue as it is an education reform issue. There needs to be a collective response and everyone needs to own a piece of the solution."

Among Ohio large-city school systems, Toledo Public Schools has one of the lowest dropout rates.

The district's graduation rate in 2007-08 was 86.7 percent. That compares with a statewide rate of 79 percent for the same year.

For the Toledo summit, organizers are drawing from a cross-section of youngsters to get a perspective on why students are quitting school and what can be done to prevent it.

Greg Braylock, Jr., of the United Way said teens from Toledo high schools and charter schools as well as foster children and their parents were invited to participate in the summit.

"We touched a broad range of kids with different perspectives and diverse experiences," he said.

Contact Mark Reiter at:


or 419-724-6199.

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