Educators Call It A National Epidemic

Call it a problem, crisis, or dilemma.

One thing is certain: research shows only two thirds of american 9th graders are graduating high school on time.

Statistics put bossier students slightly ahead of the curve, but teachers say teens are working too many hours with jobs and not school work.

"They don't tend to realize that it will keep them out of poverty, but they tend to just want the here and now," says science teacher Brenda Ware.

"What suffers is not what gives them a paycheck, what suffers is high school," adds math teacher Cecilia Guerrero.

Kathie Boyett is the project coordinator of Learning To Finish, an organization trying to identify why kids aren't completing high school.

"Caddo and Bossier Parish are both showing graduation rates that are declining," she says.

The group says their statistics during the past 10 years show a 9th grader in Caddo Parish basically has a 50% chance at graduating high school on time.

Learning To Finish has identified attendance, reading and math achievement, and bevahior issues as the prime risk indicators for dropping out of school.

Boyett says 15,000 kids in caddo and bossier parishes are failing to graduate every year.

"Children who don't graduate from high school are a greater risk to need social services, greater risk to be incarcerated, they're at a greater risk to have health problems," she says.

All are costs that burden taxpayers.

Caddo parish says they've implemented a credit recovery program and given their students incentives for good attendance.

Bossier high school has started a "Let's Do Lunch" program where students can have lunch with their teachers and get extra help on their work.