To the editors:
Youth United for Change (YUC) wants the community to know about our new chapter that brings together young people in Philadelphia who have been essentially pushed out of their traditional school environments. This chapter is open to young people in alternative, accelerated, and disciplinary schools, E3 Centers, GED programs, and reintegration programs for formerly incarcerated youth, as well as young people who are not currently connected to any program.
Depending on which reports you believe, Philadelphia’s school “pushout rate” could be 40 to 50 percent or even more. Regardless of the actual percentage, the number of young Philadelphians who never receive a high school diploma is far too high. A host of factors is to blame. Disengaging curriculum, overemphasis on standardized testing, overcrowded schools, overly punitive disciplinary policies, inexperienced teachers, general mismanagement, and school climate and safety all contribute to the District’s high pushout rate.
YUC believes that it is important to reach the young people who have been pushed out of the School District. Their stories, experiences, and voices must be heard in order to truly understand and address Philadelphia’s pushout crisis. To launch this chapter, we have partnered with Research for Action to conduct an action-research project with the youth from the pushout chapter. The youth will conduct research on a topic of their choice relating to out-of-school youth in Philadelphia.
If you or anyone that you know has been pushed out, please contact YUC at 215-423-9588.
The writer is pushout youth organizer for Youth United for Change.