When it comes to Ventura County graduation and dropout rates, there is some good news and some bad news when comparing school years 2012-13 and 2013-14. The good news, the county saw an increase in overall graduation rates (from 82.5 percent to 83.2 percent) while seeing a bigger jump from the 79.2 percent for 2009-10. The dropout rate conversely decreased (from 10.6 percent to 9.3 percent) while falling from 13.2 percent in 2009-10. That’s the good news. The bad news: the socioeconomically disadvantaged students’ graduation rate looms around 74 percent for 2013-14. While a significant increase over the prior year of 67.3 percent, it still falls short of the state average at 75 percent, and even at that, it still leaves one out of four without a diploma.

The release of the graduation and dropout rates late last month couples with the one-year anniversary of President Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, with the main goal focused on ensuring that young people reach their full potential. The primary functions of the initiative are to ensure that all children enter school cognitively, physically, socially and emotionally ready; all children read at grade level by third grade; all youth graduate from high school; all youth complete post-secondary education or training; all youth out of school are employed and all youth remain safe from violent crime. While these are somewhat lofty goals (given the work that has to go into not only making sure they happen but also to measuring the progress), the good intentions behind them can be rather inspiring. Take, for instance, Oxnard, which is the only city in the county that pledged to participate in the initiative.

In taking pledges to participate in the initiative, Obama called on the mayors of those cities to create action plans after holding local summits and conducting policy reviews. It remains to be seen whether or not Oxnard has such a plan as there is no clear record of such activities taking place. Despite the absence of activity, however, there still has been some success in at least the graduation rate. Consider Oxnard Union High School District with over 3,800 students for school years 2012-13 and 2013-14. The graduation rate increased from 77.5 percent to 80.2 percent while the dropout rate decreased from 14.8 percent to 10.8 percent.  Whatever the reason may be for these achievements, it’s worthy of praise.

As Obama’s initiative rolls into its second year, we hope to see more county cities make the pledge and actually follow through with action plans. It is encouraging to see our young people on the road to making strides toward having a greater quality of life. In the meantime, it’s up to the rest of us to be able to offer them opportunities once they have done their part.