top-rated free essay

high school

By justrezkid May 02, 2014 943 Words
As I entered the trading post in a small border reservation community I passed two Navajo youth leaning against the wall, one leg propped behind them for support. They wore black tee-shirts, one declaring “Indian Pride on the Rise,” the other showing a heavy metal rock group “Twisted Sister.” Both wore high topped basketball shoes and hair free flowing to their shoulders. One spoke to me. “Hey, are you the lady who is talking to dropouts? You should talk to me. I'm a professional dropout.” I did. And to many others. Their stories spoke of racial discrimination and rejection by teachers. “The way I see it seems like the whites don't want to get involved with the Indians. They think we're bad. We drink. Our families drink. Dirty. Ugly. And the teachers don't want to help us. They say, 'Oh, no, there is Another Indian asking a question' because they don't understand. So we stopped asking questions.” Their stories spoke of the importance and power of families and the Navajo culture. “I go crazy worrying about my parents. They need me so us Navajo stick together. I feel kinda proud to be a Navajo.” And their stories spoke of academic and social marginalization in their classes and schools. “It was just like they wanted to put us aside, us Indians. They didn't tell us nothing about careers or things to do after high school. They didn't encourage us to go to college. They just took care of the White students. They just wanted to get rid of the Indians.” This article is about these Navajo and Ute youth who leave high school.

In mainstream research the phenomenon of “dropping out” is commonly defined as an issue of individual failure (see Note 2). Youth “fail,” either academically or socially, to make it through school. The problem exists not because of deficiencies in the schools but rather because of deficiencies in individuals and families. Youth who leave school are described as deviant, dysfunctional, or deficient because of individual, family, or community characteristics. Solutions reside on remediating or changing youth and families to better “fit in.” After all, most youth do succeed in school, suggesting evidence of the school as an effective institution. This body of research ignores the barriers institutions themselves create for youth. Another line of research on dropouts has turned a critical eye towards the role the school and structural barriers play in creating the problem (see Note 3). The research reported in this article follows this line of inquiry. A critical examination of the “place” of Navajo and Ute youth in their school and community reveals other reasons than just individual failure for “dropping out.” Structural factors restricting opportunities, in effect, “fail” youth. The decision to leave school can then be seen, in part, as a rational response to irrelevant schooling, racism, restricted political, social and economic opportunities, and the desire to maintain a culturally distinct identity.

There are many similarities between Indian and other kinds of dropouts. In most cases, the reasons for leaving school are alike. For example, nearly all dropouts say school is boring, teachers don't care, and school will not help them with what they want to do in life (LeCompte, 1987). Many come from substance abusing families. There are, however, differences between other dropouts and these Navajo and Ute school leavers that only become clear when examining the cultural context surrounding these youth. Cultural and structural factors that might be easy to overlook if only examining “student characteristics” are important in understanding why many Navajo and Ute youth leave school. Specific to this cultural framework are 1) racial and economic relations in the community and school, 2) home child-rearing patterns of non-interference and early adulthood and, 3) cultural integrity and resistance.

The Data Base: Master Student List, Questionnaires and Ethnography

In the fall of 1984 1 started an ethnographic study of a border reservation community. I looked at interactions, understandings, and strategies related to education, schooling, success, and failure both in and out of school, among and between three culturally distinct groups of adolescents—Anglo, Navajo, and Ute. Presented here is only one part of this ethnography, focused on school leavers. Throughout this article I use the tribal names, Navajo and Ute, in recognition of the distinctness of these two cultures. I use the term “Indian” in situations which include both Navajo and Ute for simplicity, not for stereotyping. In addition, fictitious names are used for both communities and schools. These results were produced from four data sets: 1) a master data base from school records; 2) ethnographic field notes and collected documents; 3) interviews with a convenience sample of school leavers, and; 4) a questionnaire. In trying to determine an accurate picture of the attrition rates in this district, a data base was established to track all of the Navajo and Ute students by name who had attended Border High School (BHS) and Navajo High School (NHS) from 1980-81 to the 1988-89 school year. This master list contained attendance data, grade point averages, standardized test scores, dropout and graduation rates, community locations, current employment situations, post high school training, and type of diploma received for 1,489 youth. This list has been verified by official district records, local Navajo and Ute community members, school officials, and the youth themselves.

The graduation and dropout rate in this community was determined by following “cohorts” of youth throughout their school careers. A total of 629 students forming six different cohorts, from the class of 1984 to the class of 1989, from each of the two high schools are represented with complete four year high school records. Students who took either additional years and/or completed alternative high school degrees are included in the total graduation figures.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • why is high school important to you

    ...tell you why. when you go to school you can grow up to be anything you choose in your right mind to be. But if you just ditch school and take it as a joke you won't learn anything and you'll be on the streets begging for a hundred dollars. You can learn what you can and be serious about it. Don't you want nice cars, a house and at least ...

    Read More
  • Friend: High School and New Kid

    ...them off to school, but the reality is, they are scared and lonely sometimes. And not all children have friends. What a sad way to go through the beginning stages of your life. My beliefs were confirmed after reading an article on this website and after looking at questions moms had asked regarding their children not having friends. Please...

    Read More
  • High School

    ...134 4 February 2013 High School A major event that has changed my life forever is high school. It has affected my life both negatively and positively. I never expected it to go the way it has gone. I can honestly say that if I could re-do high school all over again, I would. It has been a bumpy road and I wish I had done it completely diffe...

    Read More
  • High School

    ...High School Experience When you start a new school or a new grade you never know what to expect, all different types of emotions are running through your head sometimes that could be stress. When I started high school, I didn’t know what to do, I was the “new” kid on the block. I had to try and be outgoing and meet new people. My f...

    Read More
  • High School

    ...any task at any school or University. Although, what matters the most is the way a student is committed to complete his mission of being a successful in the world of education. I believe the only duty of a young teenager or adult is to attend school because there is no such thing in the world that will help you more than school, I can relate to ...

    Read More
  • High School

    ...High school is the time in our lives to begin exploring options and figure out who we are as individuals, and where we want to go. It is a pathway that guides us to whatever our future holds, but it is also full of commotion, which would transform the slightest bit of misunderstanding into arguments and violence. I recall a classmate of mine tra...

    Read More
  • High School

    ...High School Forever After reading this article I thought to myself that this is exactly what high school sounds like it is just a social combat, some people are already on the top and do not have to try and others try to climb to the top but never make and some just stay on the bottom they do not even make an effort to climb. I know that in ad...

    Read More
  • High School vs. University

    ...Every September, high school graduates must prepare for the drastic transformation from high school to university. High school is a teaching environment which a student acquires facts and skills. University is a learning environment in which a student must take responsibility for thinking and applying what you have learned. This step in life stu...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.