In 2014, Mississippi's graduation rate was nearly 75% according to the State Department of Education. This could mean the other 25% failed, or dropped out.
Steve Perry is Head of Capitol Preparatory Schools - a public magnet school in Hartford, Connecticut. He says he is tired of watching education opportunities wither for minorities.
"My passion for education is to speak for those who are the least among us, from historically disadvantaged populations. Black, Latino, and poor. Single moms who are trying to get by to do what they have to do. The system itself has put it's boots on their necks for so long," says Perry.
Perry began a charter school with a 100 percent success rate in terms of graduation and retention. The charter eventually succeeded with a 100 percent college entrance rate as well.
Those numbers are partly why Perry feels Mississippi's drop out rates can improve. He says a child shouldn't be forced into failure because his or her parents couldn't afford to give him or her a better opportunity.
"The solution begins with recognizing that every single person is a person. Every single person has the capacity to be something meaningful in this world. If we do not give them access to themselves by exposing them to the truth of their humanity in education, then we will lose them, and we will lose what they had to bring to us," Perry says.
Glen Kitchens is Principal at Lafayette High School in Oxford. He agrees with Perry - saying students' options are very limited without a diploma.
"There is an option that allows students a few less credits who are going to begin their further education through the community college system. We also have some new diplomas in vocational education, and some other options that are so new that many students and many schools in Mississippi have not quite reached a point where we have graduates in those areas. But, they're works in progress," says Kitchens.
Although the dropout rate is a state-wide issue, the problem is particularly more common in Mississippi’s poorest areas.