Decision Making: The Presence Of School Dropouts

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Why do students dropout of high school? Every year, it becomes more common that thousands of teenagers in America would drop out of high school without diplomas, this is a strong epidemic expressed through the documentary “Dropout Nation,” which visually represents the crippling reasons behind the downfall of careers and reputations of dropouts. “Dropout Nation,” is a documentary about Houston Sharpstown high school and its notorious reputation for being considered a dropout factory as it had a dropout rate of more than twenty-five percent. Showing the life of four specific students breaks the stereotypes of dropouts by showing the struggle they must face daily as well as the consequences that can result in them dropping out. One thing these students fail to be aware of is the cause and effect this will have on their life. Dropping out of school involves many life-altering circumstances, from analyzing the documentary “Dropout Nation” it becomes clear that common circumstances involved in a student dropping out are the causes, effects, and the outcome a decision brings. Several reasons appear apparent as to why this happens, such as their poor domestic lifestyle, drugs, and violence as well as teen pregnancies.

The documentary opens, closes, and often returns to everyday students having to maintain their school work while at the same time juggling the additional stress that occurs at home. Poor domestic lifestyle in particular is considered to be one of the greatest challenges that cause students to drop out. A student in this film named Marcus is an exemplifying example of a person who struggles with this challenge. Marcus did not have any good role model to teach him to do better things in his life as his mother and stay-at-home father were both alcoholics. Despite them being alcoholics, his mom still takes care of him and wants to do everything she can, because of this Marcus feels pressured to repay his mom by graduating and then getting a job to help around the house. Marcus stated “… I know I can just- I can make it better for them. I can make it better for them. I know I can help. If I do write, I can get everything I got to do together.” This shows that Marcus feels it’s his responsibility to take care of his parent’s problems after high school instead of his own, but in reality, his parents should be responsible to ensure he passes high school instead of intermingling his pressures at home with school. The stressful causes that appear at home combined with school affect him mentally in a way that he is expected too much by both his teachers to pass and in himself to help his parents after high school, even though it’s not his responsibility. The outcome this decision brings, makes him feel more agitated than usual and which results in his resorting to drugs and violence to release the pent-up stress which is another big factor for dropouts.

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Many students make terrible decisions in their early years that can not only affect their welfare but also society as a whole. They are the same students who contribute to activities that include drugs which can come hand in hand with violence and misconduct. Lawrence is a student presented in the documentary that encompasses why his problems with drugs and violence are a reason for his dropout. Lawrence was sent to Houston Sharpstown high school to escape gang and drug-related activity. He lost people that were close to him and his only parent, which is his mom has been in and out of prison, since he has no control over what happens to her it has affected him on an emotional level. He would go all day thinking about it and being sad, and then it gets to the point where it wells up and causes him to have management issues that he can not control. A counselor named Brandi who had worked with Lawrence said that “…Typically, something happens every other day. If he’s here for two days, something’s going to happen one of those days.” This shows that Lawrence’s management issues debilitate his way of life as he takes aggression when facing most situations. Lawrence did not have a suitable adult in his life, he has been a troubled student that has been on his own with nobody telling him what to do, so he needed high school not just for academics but for structure as well. Although this is true, the fact that he was raised in a life full of crime which negatively affected his ways to deal with stress using drugs and violence has interfered with the possibility of properly participating in school. The outcome of the negative decision he chooses to do relating to his anger resulted in him being arrogant when talking to his others despite them helping, which lead to him dropping out.

Drugs and parents have been a common theme that occurred in each of the students’ lives. One student that has to deal with those problems on top of teen pregnancy is Sparkle. Sparkle moved from New Orleans to Houston after Hurricane Katrina, and her mother died along the way. Due to these events she lived with family and slowly throughout the year she switched to living with friends and slept on the couch or floor all while maintaining a baby. Being someone that loves the learning that comes with school and has a passion to be an obstetrician, Sparkle must balance school along with the hardships of caring for a child alone. This is presented to be a daunting task for Sparkle which makes her conflicted if she should sacrifice one of them since balancing these tasks are difficult. This is shown through Sparkle’s expression to a counselor by saying that “I think school- it ain’t nothing but adding on my problems. It’s a big situation right now with my son. And that situation is not making me happy.” This shows that school is not her only job to do, she is balancing things like working, trying to get her son back when the government took him away from her, making sure she has somewhere to sleep every night, and eating every day. The situation regarding problems regarding having a child, homelessness, and balancing school has caused a problem for her livelihood for the rest of her life. It was unreasonable to keep everything balanced all at once since it was stressful so it resulted in the choice of sacrificing education in the hopes of being able to maintain the child and her future. The outcome of her decision resulted in Sparkle dropping out of school and stripping away her future of becoming an obstetrician for the sake of her livelihood.

Education resembles the strength of character for every individual and society, lacking it would provide a hindrance to it. Consequently, students that are not competent enough due to not graduating from school will be living dejected lives. Many students do not understand the importance of education so dropping school becomes an available option for them. The choices the students made to drop out will disrupt their future to a detrimental extent whether it was from a poor domestic lifestyle, drugs, violence, or teen pregnancy. Parents should be able to encourage children to do the right things so that they become a beer people and will be useful for the child’s future. In conclusion, a healthy relationship with others and yourself will help balance and get rid of unnecessary problems the kid will have as school serves as another problem.  

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