North Texas mayors and school officials joined forces Saturday going door to door in search of students who have not returned to school and are at risk of dropping out entirely. A phone bank was set up this week to call students first.
Dallas ISD said about 2,500 students have not re-enrolled for the semester. Fort Worth ISD lost more than 400 students. Arlington ISD is reporting 450 no-show students. The three school districts were dressed in different colors -- Dallas in orange T-shirts, Fort Worth in blue, Arlington in green -- but each went on the same mission.
"Everybody has to have an education, or we all pay," Melody Johnson, FWISD superintendent, said. Hundreds of school employees and volunteers and even a couple of mayors knocked on hundreds of doors. "It's important. We've got to save every kid, make sure that everyone graduates. That's what we want to do for our children," Cherie Washington, Eastern Hills High School principal, said.
"If they don't have an education, they're basically going to put themselves in a hole for the rest of their lives," Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert said. He and Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck have the big picture in mind -- their cities' futures. "When jobs are scarce, and people haven't finished high school, the possibilities of them getting a really good job are slim," Mayor Cluck said.
Teams of people hit a number of homes only to discover the student no longer lived at that address or no one came to the door, so the teams left on the door knob flyers on how to re-enroll. But when they found students who were home, they heard just about every excuse out there for dropping out of school.Some of the more common excuses were "I'm working, got a family. I don't like school," Jerry McCullough said.
Ricardo Reta, 17, cannot find one subject he likes. But the Arlington teen is giving it another shot. His mother took him to school to re-enroll. He'll have to repeat his sophomore year. "I didn't really want to come. I was already bored of school," the Sam Houston High School student said. "My mom tells me to, so I just might as well get it over with."
This month is crucial for schools to get as many students back as possible because state funding and a district's rating depend on it. Arlington ISD got about 20 students to re-enroll in school. Dallas ISD is still compiling its numbers. Fort Worth ISD says its numbers will be available next week.