The dropout rate for Baltimore students has plummeted this year, along with the rates for juvenile-involved crime and arrests, reports the Baltimore Sun. Officials say the change is due in large part to close cooperation between the leaders of the school system, the police department and the state juvenile corrections agency. City officials and others hope Baltimore may have begun to break a cycle that some call the school-to-prison pipeline.
Since 2006, the number of children killed in the city has plunged by 80 percent, and the number of juveniles suspected in killings has dropped by about the same percentage. The city recorded a historically low dropout rate of 4 percent, and a record 66 percent graduation rate that the Baltimore school system said is driven primarily by achievements of black males. No one claims an eradication of the ills fueled by poverty, drug abuse, lack of economic opportunity and fractured family structures, but those involved in youth issues say the crime and school statistics demonstrate significant movement in the right direction.
Baltimore’s progress “really is phenomenal,” said Jane Sundius of the Open Society Institute, an advocacy group that has researched the effect of dropouts and school suspensions on juvenile justice trends in the city.