The house was uninhabitable. Yet, there he was – an 11-year-old boy taking a nap on a soiled mattress with a stench that made me ill. The kid should have been in school with his peers. But for this child living with a mentally ill father in an abandoned home, school was an afterthought. He was falling through the cracks.
I met this young boy when a former city official asked me to ride along as he visited parts of the city that he says are out of most Jacksonians’ view. The official did his part that day. He got on the phone and made the appropriate calls to get the child help.
I often think about the boy, and wonder what became of him. While his case is a worst-case example, there are children like him – falling through the cracks, dropping out from school, with little hope of a future. On Oct. 3, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS stations around the country will devote seven hours of air time for American Graduate Day. It is a day when we bring attention to success stories and offer hope. The program also presents the challenges: If we are to succeed as a nation, we have to provide an educational safety net for our children.
During one of the American Graduate segments, I am proud to say that the cameras will swing to Mississippi, where Mississippi Public Broadcasting and its dropout prevention efforts will be featured. While it’s OK to cheer for your favorite football teams on that Saturday, I hope that you devote all or some of your day Oct. 3 celebrating America’s youth. At MPB, the role of education is one that we embrace emphatically.