Birmingham approves plan to give drop-outs another shot

By Sherea Harris

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - About 65 percent of high school students graduate in Alabama.

The Birmingham City School Board is working to give high school drop-outs a second chance.

A new initiative gets those drop-outs back in the school system, and allow them to earn their high school diploma. It's an effort Birmingham superintendent Dr. Craig Witherspoon supports with several agencies in Birmingham to address to the school system's drop rate.

The program targets drop-outs who have found it to be tough in the real world without an education.

The hope is that after the students earn their diploma, they go on to college and continue to be successful.

State certified teachers will instruct the students which involves interactive learning using the Birmingham City Schools curriculum. The school approved a contract with a firm called "The J. Vincent Group" to create a drop-out recovery effort.

The CEO says his firm will go out in neighborhoods and recruit former students ages 17 to 21.

"These students can come to our locations and basically not only enjoy the intimacy of instruction we are providing but also remove the stigma of embarrassment by returning to school at such a older age," said J. Vincent Brown.  "Not only that, but get the attention they deserve because these students may be behind now by academically."

"We feel like they are the firm that can go out and do what's necessary to get our children back into school," said school board president WJ Maye.

Last year in Mobile, more than 800 students returned to their school system with a similar program. It's not just about getting diplomas. School board president WJ Maye says the students who graduate from the program will increase the systems enrollment numbers, making up for funding cuts.

For those interested, there will be recruitment fairs held around Birmingham.

For more info, call 205 266-3584.

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