The Washington Post on Sunday did a rather amazing job of tracking down 127 students out of the 243 who started high school together in 2001 at Washington’s Cardozo High School. The most depressing part is that this is pretty much an average DC high school:
Over four years, the class had its share of bright spots — hints of what might be possible given more resources, better management and more family support. But the survey showed that, despite heroic efforts by some teachers and administrators, Cardozo’s generally low academic standards led to disappointment in college. Other students said they suffered from the failures of a city public school system that could not keep records straight, classrooms orderly or hallways safe.
More than one third, or 49, of the students surveyed had dropped out of high school, often citing their inability to keep up, their need to get a job or the absence of efforts by school officials to keep them in. Three students are still in high school — one at Cardozo.
Fifty-five are working, in jobs that include firefighter, carpet cleaner and parking attendant, but the vast majority are earning just about the minimum wage. Eighteen are unemployed.
Three students in the group are dead — one from natural causes, one was fatally beaten by her boyfriend and the third was the victim of a distressingly common urban scenario. He was shot 19 times in a drive-by, his killer never found. One young man is in jail, awaiting trial on charges of armed robbery.
But other students proudly reported their successes. They described digging for every opportunity they could find at Cardozo or elsewhere, graduating and making their way to college. Seventy-eight of the 127 students The Post contacted graduated from high school and 39 of those surveyed are attending a trade school or college, many at the University of the District of Columbia and other nearby institutions.