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Mayor Hardberger and SAISD announce “Reach Out to Drop Outs” Day

SAN ANTONIO, TX.-  In response to unacceptably elevated high school dropout rates, Mayor Phil Hardberger and the San Antonio Independent School District announced a community-wide “Reach Out to Dropouts” initiative on September 6.

On that Saturday, city leaders will join school officials, business leaders, celebrities and other volunteers in a face-to-face, door-to-door campaign to encourage dropouts to return to school.

“It’s important that every child in San Antonio succeeds in life, both for them individually and for our community as a whole,” said Mayor Hardberger. “Education will give them the tools they need to do that.”

The announcement came during a press conference with representatives from the SAISD, where the pilot program will take place. Eventually, it will expand to other districts and schools in the community.

“SAISD is proud to partner with the Mayor on such an important initiative,” said Dr. Robert Durón, SAISD Superintendent. “We are thankful to the community for taking ownership of this program and showing that they care about our students. Our hope is to send a loud and clear message to our students that we care, we can help and we are here to open that door.”

The dropout problem is severe:

Overall, Texas schools are losing a third of their students;

From 1985 to 2007, the number of students lost from public school went from 86,272 to 134,646 – a 56 percent increase;

Statewide, dropout rates for Hispanic and Black students are either the same or worse than they were 20 years ago.

The average annual income for a high school dropout in 2005 was $17,299, compared to $26,933 for a high school graduate. That gap widens even more the more education one receives.

“We have to act now,” Mayor Hardberger said. “We need these students to know that we care what they do with their lives. It all starts with a knock on the door.”

Also joining the news conference was Mark Santa Cruz, a former SAISD student who dropped out and then returned to school to graduate.

Reach Out to Drop Outs is a statewide initiative taking place in cities around Texas. In San Antonio, partners include the P16 Plus Council of Greater San Antonio, Communities in Schools, and the Alamo Work Source. Sponsors include Clear Channel, CPS Energy, AT&T, USAA and H-E-B.

The City’s Department of Community Initiatives will also be available on September 6 to assess the financial and family barriers students are facing and school counselors will try to determine what changes at school might help the students.