No One Told Me Not To

“No one told me not to.”  When dropping out of school to get a job to help support his then girlfriend and their new baby, no one told him not to.

I was sitting in a car, one that I had recently rented for a work visit to Columbus, Ohio.  “Enterprise, we’ll pick you up.”  They also drop you off, and I was getting dropped off.   I’m sitting in the passenger seat, while the guy who cleans the cars after they’re dropped off, is in the driver’s seat.  After a minute or so of silence, he asks the one question that you ask when you have nothing to talk about with a guy you just met, “So, what do you do?”

I answer the way I always answer, “I’m a data nerd for schools.  I work for a company that goes into schools that have high dropout rates and tries to get them not to drop out.  My job is to find the data that will point to which kids are in danger of dropping out and then work with the schools to figure out how not to let them drop out.”  I’ve told that bit a hundred times.

He responds with his story, “I got great grades all through high school.  My senior year, half a year from graduating, my girlfriend gets pregnant.  I drop out to support her and my son.”  This gentlemen is one of those that would not be identified by the Early Warning Indicators.  Instead, a life event suddenly occurred, and he reacted.

As he was dis-enrolling from school, getting a job that would pay the bills and support his family, no one tried to stop him.  As he put it . . .

No One Told Me Not To

This does not mean that no one cared about him, his future, or that of his now growing family, but what he was doing was what was expected.  Granted this was more than 16 years ago.  His son is now a senior.  Expectations were different then.  Of course, your girlfriend is pregnant, you drop out of school, marry her, and start your family a bit early.  

But no one, at least no one that he can remember, told him to stay in school and get his diploma.  

As a side note, he went to the same high school that I graduated from.  A part of the class that followed mine (1997 if you must know).  He knew one of my old friends from high school, who was also in his year.  His children go to the high school that my mother recently retired from as an art teacher.  His son, the 17 year old one, took a couple art classes from her.

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