There’s a lot of talk about the high rate of high school dropouts, especially Black males. But there are still thousands of Black youths graduating, which leads me to a special congratulations to Obama Academy, which has not only graduated 100 percent of its students the past two years, but all have been accepted by either a college or the military.

The Pittsburgh Science Technology Academy had their first graduating class, which followed in the footsteps of Obama with a 100 percent graduation, and 100 percent being accepted into college. This is a special school that specializes in science, technology, engineering and math. Any kid who is interested in any of these fields is going to be more apt to stay in school, and concentrate on his or her homework. They are generally going to have more supportive parents and other adults around them.

CAPA also had a 100 percent graduation rate last year, there are no figures on this year’s class, but the difference is that a lot of CAPA students are in the arts.

There’s nothing wrong with singing and dancing, and doing the designs for the sets and so on, but math, science, technology, and engineering are much heavier classes. My congratulations go out to Principal Robert Scherrer and staff at Sci-Tech. I would just like to see the class of 50 plus in 2013 doubled in 2014.

Obama is also a magnet school specializing in International Studies. Once again any child specializing in International Studies is going to have his or her A game in tack with colleges standing in line trying to get these students because getting a job after graduation is easy. These students have to know one or more foreign languages and they learn about other countries. Not just their political structure but their economic structure and with the business and political world becoming more and more global these students can just about pick their own colleges, and if they keep their grades up, they can pick where they want to work.

The past two years there have been 100 plus students graduate from each Obama class, with all going to college or the military.  Instead of the students having to wait to be accepted, the colleges and military are seeking them out. Basically they are in line to get the students services.

Now in all honesty these three schools are a world apart from the average schools. But it’s a start. These young people have found out what they are interested in and the public school system is providing them an avenue to pursue their interests.

This is much like what China and a few other countries are doing. They are testing their youth early to find out what they are interested in or good at and how they learn best and then put them in that track, instead of just Academic Tests. The U.S. is beginning to move into this direction because the country is rapidly falling behind much of the world in education.  So in order to become more competitive they must become more aggressive in seeking out youths and showing why it’s important to learn science, math, foreign languages, etc.  

It appears the Pittsburgh Public Schools are getting a handle on the high tech fields, and the arts. Now they must find a way to attract all the other students by finding out what interests them, and how to pull them into the non-magnet general schools. And since most kids drop out around middle school they must get to these kids early, which brings us back to the early testing and placement of youth, which makes feeder schools critical.

Pittsburgh has also stated that trade schools and vocational schools will be bought back for the thousands of jobs available for people graduating with a skill such as auto mechanic, plumber, electrician, heavy equipment worker, carpenter, painter, plasterer, and the many other fields out there that does not require a college degree, but need special training. With the proper schools these fields could be just as in demand as the others. Not as lucrative but very few if anyone in these fields have to worry about being on the welfare or unemployment line. They make very good money.

Hopefully the city and the country will take a good close look at what these schools as well as some charter schools and private schools are doing and follow suit. Not necessarily doing the same thing, but at least find out what works for other students with other interests and implement an education track for them. Because if we haven’t learned anything else, we have learned that the one shoe fits all method doesn’t work in the education system. Each child learns differently, and we must approach education in this vein.

Hopefully we can double the Sci-Tech graduation class as well as the Obama class next year.  

My suggestion is that now that we have a Sci-Tech school (Math and Science), and an International Studies school, and we are going to re-open vocational schools, maybe our next magnet should be Health Care. The jobs are waiting, and think of how many students it would attract. I would say another 100 percent graduation, and you can get the students interested very early. What about it?

A big congratulations goes out to Obama Principal Wayne Walters, his staff and the parents for an outstanding job. Keep up the great work. Hopefully I will be doing another column next year congratulating Principal Robert Scherrer of Sci-Tech for his second consecutive year of 100 percent graduation, and an increase in the number of students. Can you make it three in a row Principal Walters?

(Ulish Carter is the managing editor of the New Pittsburgh Courier.)




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