During this time of the year, our district begins to get ready for the oncoming flu season by offering district employees flu shots and instructing students on how to wash their hands properly to help prevent the spread of germs. Although the flu is a major concern in Pinal County, there is an even bigger epidemic that is sweeping across the county. This epidemic is that high school graduating seniors do not pursue higher education. During my high school years, one could drop out of school and enter the work force by working in the area copper mines. However, our times and the economy have changed and high school graduates must now obtain higher education or they will not be able to compete in our 21st century economy.
Dr. John D. Haegar, President of Northern Arizona University, calls this phenomenon of not pursuing higher education the “Quiet Crisis”. Dr. Haeger also states that Arizona college completion rates are 46th in the nation and that in Arizona nine out of every 100 ninth-graders go on to complete a bachelor’s degree.
Research indicates many students who do not attain higher education or drop out of school altogether later become a burden on society by having to apply for subsidized medical health care because their current jobs do not offer health insurance. And in some circumstances, individuals turn to a life of crime.
As educators we need to help cure the epidemic. Just as we inoculate our children against childhood diseases at a young age, we need to start educating our children at a young age about the advantages of attaining higher education.
In my next blog, I will outline my “Health Care Plan” to help cure the Quiet Crisis.