Morning Read: In Watertown, 4 out of 10 high school students don’t graduate

The Watertown Daily Times is reporting on the latest graduation numbers and in Watertown it’s not pretty.

Watertown (61.4 percent) and Brasher Falls (61.1) had the lowest graduation rates in the north country last year, nearly as low as New York City (60.9). The statewide graduation rate for students who entered ninth grade in fall 2007 shows that 74 percent received a diploma on time in June 2011.

Statewide, 1 in 3 kids aren’t graduating on time — many of them not at all.  What does that mean in an economy increasingly geared toward college graduates?  You can view graduation performance for all of the North Country’s districts here as a PDF file.

Comments welcome.


20 Comments on “Morning Read: In Watertown, 4 out of 10 high school students don’t graduate”

  1. Ken Hall says:

    “1 in 3 kids aren’t graduating on time — many of them not at all. What does that mean”

    The likelihood is that the most dangerous and insidious of human inventions is functioning very effectively, to wit, “marketing/advertisement”.

    When children are convinced by marketers that the in thing in clothing, foot wear, jewelry, ., ., sex appeal, ., ., and of course high tech 24/7 instantaneous electronic communication with their peers is far more relevant to their lives than a “boring” education, what outcome does one expect?

  2. mervel says:

    The statewide numbers are more concerning than a couple of our districts.

    If you consider the third largest state in the Union has 26% of its kids not obtaining even a high school degree (a free one); what does that say for future wages, employment and the economy in general? We argue about all of these economic policies, at the end of the day an economy is a function of the productivity of its workforce.

    I still don’t have any real understanding of what is going on, why do so many kids drop out? What is really going on? Is it cultural as Ken points out? I don’t know.

    Public schools better prepare for more intense scrutiny though with those kinds of numbers.

  3. Paul says:


    I don’t think you can blame this on marketers and iPods. There have been snake oil salesman out there forever.

    I do think that we need to do more to link education with the technology that is becoming pervasive.

    The trick is to get kids to watch things like regents tutorials on their iPad instead of some of the junk you mention.

    When you get lemons make lemonade!

  4. Newt says:

    I checked Canton, Saranac Lake, Beekmantown, Lake Placid, Moriah, Beekmantown, Tupper Lake,Wesport on the site. All had rates between 85-88%, except Westport, which had 100% of it’s 28 Seniors graduating (way to go Westport. You must have awesome teachers, family income playing no part, of course). Anyway, 1. 85-88% graduating, if that is the North Country norm, is not too shabby. Makes you wonder even what the deal in Watertown is. One can guess, of course, but best not to.

  5. Newt says:

    Sorry about glitches, above. Site seemed to be freezing up a lot, took me 10 minutes to spew it all out.

  6. mervel says:

    The largest city in the country has around a 40% or higher drop out rate for its public schools.

    Come on talk about a collective putting our head in the sand, this is a silent disaster. Maybe New Yorkers just don’t care? To me THIS is the real 99% issue, the 1% are not going to these public schools so they could care less about what is happening. Public education is about our common heritage, it is a unique feature of American life. When we abandon our public schools in a flight to these elitist private castles of private education; we are losing a part of this country and our future.

  7. Bob S says:

    The high drop out rate has been a problem for generations. A statistic that is far more important but less measured is the literacy rate among those who do graduate. What does it matter if a school system has a low drop out rate but is turning out an uneducated product? NY State gets very little return on the very costly investment it makes in education.

  8. Walker says:

    “I don’t think you can blame this on marketers and iPods. There have been snake oil salesman out there forever.”

    Well, yes, but what have they been selling us lately? Did you notice that girls graduate at a higher rate than boys, and they complete more of the advanced Regents degrees than boys do?

    It used to be the other way around. I’m just guessing here, but I suspect that we’ve gone from a culture that valued education, and told girls that being smart was unfeminine to a culture that undervalues education, and tells boys that being educated is not masculine.

    Now before someone says “undervalues education”! Are you crazy? Look what we pay for it! Look what we go through to get into the “right” schools! I would suggest to you that that is evidence that we value credentials and status symbols, not education.

  9. Pete Klein says:

    I notice Indian Lake has an 89.5% graduation rate for all but rises to 100% for the girls and most graduate with Regent diplomas.
    Way to go girls but boys, where is your pride?

  10. mervel says:

    I think Walker is on to something. There is a certain cultural attitude that does not value education at all, particularly for boys and men. Somehow it is ok for the boys to party and fight and slide by but the girls have it going on as far as grades go. At least that is what I have noticed. Also just watch a little t.v. that tweens watch (I have kids that age). It is weird we go through all of this harping and moaning about the importance of education, but if you just step back and look at our popular culture, t.v., music and so forth that is aimed at young people, it does not value good grades and study habits and hard work in school.

    Among the kids we deal with at work; who are admittedly already having a lot of family problems surrounding poverty etc, the girls are the ones that have much more hope of a future than the guys who almost seem like they intentionally want to act dumb, as if acting smart was wimpy.

  11. PNElba says:

    Bob S has a point about literacy. You can pretty much tell who is going to succeed in high school and who is going to fail by who can and cannot read by the 3rd grade. And, a huge percentage of those who cannot read by the third grade come from poor, broken families.

    Let’s also point out that we have students in school now who did not used to be there. Anyone else remember “special school” of 50 years ago?

    Lastly, next time you see a teenager, ask them how many books they read last year.

  12. mervel says:

    PNE yes early reading is really really important.

    I would not go that far though about telling in third grade. You have to do three main things to graduate from high school in the US, show up; put in minimal effort, and don’t be a discipline problem.

  13. Walker says:

    Mervel, your three keys to success will get you through most baccalaureate and masters degree programs too. In my more cynical moments, I think that the whole point of degree requirements is to document that you are fairly docile and reliable.

  14. Ken Hall says:

    Paul says: “I don’t think you can blame this on marketers and iPods. There have been snake oil salesman out there forever.”

    1. I see no way to equate snake oil salesman selling snake oil to adults with the all out marketing strategies toward children that have emerged since the end of WWII with the realization that brain washed children were marketer’s greatest allies. In the home, store, automobile nearly 24/7 nagging their parents to buy, buy, buy crap.

    2. Apparently in the universe of which you are an inhabitant forever is a relatively short time span of 50-60 years. I would equate forever to be at least the life span of the universe within which I live, some 14 billion years. If we equate forever with infinity, now we are talking a long, long, long time.

    3. I do blame the marketing of adult concepts to children via all of the high tech mechanization’s available to the purveyors of such today. The prevalence of child like thinking, by children and adults, that everything in life should be easy and that the relevance of difficult subjects, such as science and math, should be downplayed and ridiculed is a direct reward of allowing it’s existence. One example, examine the ferocity with which McDonalds fought, and defeated, the laws enacted by various municipalities in an attempt to restrict their marketing practices toward children via toys included within certain meals.

  15. mervel says:

    But the depressing part Walker is that for whatever reason 1 in 4 don’t see the point of showing up? I mean its free! I know teens don’t think rationally or often have the ability to realistically think about consequences, but come on…. we did it, not always in a straight line, but I knew that I needed to make a living and I knew that high school graduation was part of that somehow. I just don’t think we can have realistic economic policies in a competitive world when 25-40T% of the workforce think that High School is too hard.

  16. Walker says:

    “…1 in 4 don’t see the point of showing up? I mean its free!”

    Yeah, but it’s really boring compared to lots of other stuff you could be doing. And it’s not cool at all.

  17. PNElba says:

    I would not go that far though about telling in third grade.

    Unfortunately, the evidence shows a correlation of inability to read at the 3rd grade level and secondary school performance.

  18. It's Still All Bush's Fault says:

    I think that PNELba’s point is important.

    My wife had the children reading before they started school. We made sure that they always had access to books. Both of them read constantly when they weren’t doing chores on the farm. I have always thought that their success in school and college was due it some part to their reading habits. To this day, neither Christmas nor birthdays pass without a new stack of books appearing.

  19. mervel says:

    Yeah I agree.

    The kids that our children have gone through school with, who had chronic early trouble reading, were the same ones who are struggling now.

    I honestly think though that even then you can overcome that through hard work and encouragement. You may never be a great reader or even a great student, but you can graduate from High School, you can learn a trade, it does not mean you are doomed.

  20. Pete Klein says:

    Reading is fundamental. So too is speaking English. If you can read and speak English, you can continue your education with or without college.
    A quick look at unemployment rates among various groups shows this fact is easily proven.

Comments are closed.