Palin reaches out to possible high school drop-outs

Governor wants Alaska students to call her first

Posted: Monday, November 12, 2007

ANCHORAGE - Gov. Sarah Palin is reaching out to any Alaska high school student thinking about dropping out. The governor wants those students to call her and talk about their options first.

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The offer comes in reaction to a recent study that labeled seven Alaska high schools "dropout factories."

"I'd remind the kids that no matter where they are in life - (maybe) in circumstances that probably aren't ideal - that there is no circumstance that they're in that is insurmountable or would necessitate them just giving up," Palin said.

Among the schools given the dubious distinction were the high schools from which the governor, her son and her husband have graduated - Wasilla High and Dillingham High.

Palin's 16-year-old daughter, Bristol, is a junior at Wasilla.

Who to call

Any Alaska high school student considering dropping out can talk to their high school counselor or principal, or the governor's office in Juneau at 465-3500 or in Anchorage at (907) 269-7450.

"Every little bit is going to help," Loren Berkoski, the acting superintendent in Dillingham, said in reaction to the governor's offer.

The Johns Hopkins study was based on tracking senior classes for three years in a row - 2004, 2005 and 2006. The "dropout factory" designation went to the schools where 60 percent or less of the students who started as freshmen advanced to their senior year.

Alaska school administrators pointed out it did not take into account students who transferred to other schools during those years.

The governor is encouraging any student around the state who is thinking about quitting to call her first.

"I would also speak to them about the practical solutions out there. There is so much to be gained, of course, by staying in school. But we do have to speak to the kids about the different practical choices that we have," she said Friday. "We are very blessed in Alaska to have so many options for a student who may not be fitting into the conventional, traditional school setting. We have the voc-tech schools, the different career centers."

Of the seven high schools given the label, three are in Fairbanks: Ben Eielson, Lathrop and North Pole. The others were: Bethel Regional, Barrow, Dillingham and Wasilla.

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