Stock image

EDITORIAL: Graduation is too important to let students fail

We need to do more to ensure every student graduates high school, editor Grace Kennedy writes

To many Observer readers, I probably seem pretty young. I’m barely a handful of years out of university, and haven’t yet had my first high school reunion.

To others — to high schoolers in particular — I’m kind of old. I have never been on Tik Tok, although I’ve heard good things, and I only learned what “spilling the tea” was about three months ago.

Of course, to me it feels like I graduated from high school yesterday. Which is why I was shocked when I saw the Indigenous graduation rates for the 2011-2012 school year.

RELATED: EDITORIAL: It takes more than good grades to make a great school

In the entire province, including public and private schools, only 60 per cent of Indigenous students graduated high school after they had reached Grade 12 for the first time.

In the Langley School District, where I graduated, it was 67 per cent. In Fraser Cascade, it was just 55 per cent.

Of the 56 Indigenous students in SD78 who reached Grade 12 in 2011-2012, only 31 graduated high school.

This, to me, was absurd. And it wasn’t even the district’s worst graduation rate for Indigenous students.

In 2001-2002, 38 per cent of Indigenous students graduated Grade 12. Thirty-eight per cent.

Sure, that was almost 20 years ago now. The camera had just been introduced to the flip phone and frosted tips were still a popular hairstyle for men.

But, despite the bad hair and poor quality photos, it wasn’t that long ago.

Maybe students weren’t being forced from their families and taken to residential schools, but B.C.’s education system was still failing them.

People who enter adulthood without a high school diploma make less money than their counterparts, according to a 2016 study from Statistics Canada.

They have also have higher unemployment rates: in 2016, only 41 per cent of women and 67 per cent of men without diplomas had a job.

Women often face other challenges when they don’t graduate high school — one in five young women without a diploma were single parents, compared to only two per cent of women with a university degree, for example.

I am a privileged white woman, and when I graduated high school, I was lucky to be a privileged white girl.

It never crossed my mind that when I graduated more than 3,000 Indigenous students in B.C. hadn’t completed high school and would be facing all of those myriad challenges.

So this year, to know that every one of the Indigenous students at Agassiz Elementary Secondary School finished their education and left with a diploma in 2020 — that is a big thing.

RELATED: Grad rates reach highest point ever in SD78, as nearly all Agassiz Secondary students leave with diploma

I am so proud of all the hard work those students put into their education. I am proud of obstacles they overcame, and the successes that they will find in the future because of it.

The Fraser Cascade School District is doing better for its students when it comes to graduation rates. It has been seeing steady increases for the last 20 years, and I hope that trajectory continues.

I am not an educational expert, and I don’t pretend to know the best way to make sure this increase will continue.

But I do know that every student who leaves the system without a diploma is one who will be struggling against challenges they don’t have to face. And that is unacceptable.

Congratulations to the 2019-2020 class of graduates for all they have accomplished.

We can’t let the students who come after them fall through the cracks.



news@ahobserver.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Environment Canada says the Eastern Fraser Valley will enjoy plenty of sunshine this week. (Black Press News File)
Sunny weather to stay around all week in Eastern Fraser Valley

Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope all forecasted for a week free of rainfall

Chilliwack school trustee Barry Neufeld has called for the resignation of B.C.’s Minister of Education, Jennifer Whiteside. He made the call during a speech in Vancouver on April 10, 2021, in a rally for a parent embroiled in legal battles surrounding his child’s transition.
Chilliwack school trustee calls for B.C.’s minister of education to resign

Barry Neufeld spoke at rally for jailed father in Vancouver, calling SOGI 123 a ‘dangerous experiment’

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod, seen here on April 9, 2021 with four-year-old sister Elena and mom Vanessa, was born with limb differences. The family, including husband/dad Sean McLeod, is looking for a family puppy that also has a limb difference. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack family looking for puppy with limb difference, just like 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy McLeod born as bilateral amputee, now her family wants to find ‘companion’ puppy for her

Four members with Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans were out at Cultus Lake on March 28 and 29 hauling trash out of the waters. (Henry Wang)
PHOTOS: Out-of-town divers remove 100s of pounds of trash from Cultus Lake

Members of Divers for Cleaner Lakes and Oceans hauled out 470 pounds of trash over two days

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Chilliwack tulip attraction open this weekend after being closed last year due to COVID-19

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

People walk past the Olympic rings in Whistler, B.C., Friday, May 15, 2020. Whistler which is a travel destination for tourists around the world is seeing the effects of travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Adults living, working in Whistler, B.C., eligible for COVID-19 vaccine on Monday

The move comes as the province deals with a rush of COVID-19 and variant cases in the community

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
UPDATE: RCMP investigating after child, 6, dies at motel in Duncan, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service is conducting its own investigation into the circumstances around the child’s death

RCMP display some of the fish seized from three suspects who pleaded guilty to violating the Fisheries Act in 2019, in this undated handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - RCMP
3 banned from fishing, holding licences after overfishing violations near Vancouver Island

Mounties seized the group’s 30-foot fishing vessel and all equipment on board at the time

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

B.C. Premier John Horgan responds to questions during a postelection news conference in Vancouver, on Sunday, October 25, 2020. British Columbia’s opposition Liberals and Greens acknowledge the COVID-19 pandemic has presented huge challenges for Horgan’s government, but they say Monday’s throne speech must outline a coherent plan for the province’s economic, health, social and environmental future. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP to bring in throne speech in B.C., Opposition wants coherent plan

Farnworth said the budget will include details of government investment in communities and infrastructure

Most Read