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Let them drop out (Read 7895 times)
carla
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Let them drop out
Apr 12th, 2008 at 4:10pm
 
CAT Tracks for March 15, 2008
LET MY PEOPLE GO
One of those things that make you go "Hmmmm..."
Well, at least this idea is different!
From the St. Petersburg Times...

High schools should let dropouts be dropouts
By Jay Mathews, Washington Post

Every time I hear from a teacher, I learn something. It may be a new reading report, a promising homework technique, a story of a student's success. And sometimes it is a taboo-busting, eye-widening, troublemaking idea. Consider the e-mail that Michael Goldstein, founder of the MATCH Charter Public High School in Boston, sent, saying that if a kid wants to drop out, let him.

I would usually hit the delete button on something that impolitic. But Goldstein has created one of the most successful inner-city high schools in the country. He has proven to me time and again that he knows what he is talking about.

I think our awful dropout rate - only half of urban low-income students complete high school - is the most difficult educational problem in the country. (The rate for Pinellas black students was 43 percent last year - the worst in Florida.)

What Goldstein wants to do is sort of educational jujitsu: Let the force of the kid's rush out of school bring him back, later, with enough money to get the learning he finally realizes he needs.

So here, in italics, I am going to quote his e-mail in response to my request for solutions to the hopelessness found in many of our urban high schools:

I've got a nutty idea. When half the kids in most U.S. cities essentially reject the basic product called "school" - many would leave a lot earlier if they were allowed by parents and the law - then the best path forward is not only different schools (with caring, discipline, and rigor), but also offering a different product entirely.

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carla
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #1 - Apr 12th, 2008 at 4:11pm
 
Here's the different "product:" What if a 16-year-old could drop out but bank the money that the school district spends per pupil ($15,000 here in Boston), the amount that otherwise would have been spent junior and senior year, like a medical savings account or an IRA? Then it can't be touched for at least two years - force-feed kids the feeling of the dead-end life they're embarking on.

At first ... nobody bugs you to get up in the morning. ... You like it, freedom. After a few months, you realize you're a loser, other people are going places but not you. You maybe get a job and it's a boring security job at $8 an hour. And, maybe by age 20, or 26, or whatever, some maturity. Then (a dropout) can start over. He can use the set-aside money from the years of high school he missed for GED tutoring or perhaps special charter high schools set up for older students, then college or other higher ed. But he controls the money; he's essentially buying the service. Other options could spring up. Maybe even (in) the junior/senior year, $30,000 could be given to the military, which could set up programs where a high school dropout could attend a military-run boot camp, get a degree, then enlist.

The dropout would get a statement every quarter in the mail, like a mutual fund, which shows the $30,000 (plus interest) or whatever available for their education. In each statement, there would be an easy-to-read story about an inner-city kid who'd used the education funds to turn things around. Constant reminder.

In other words, let (the student) drop out. Give him a legit choice. Right now it's essentially "go thru the motions but resist every effort to learn, but at least show up" or "officially drop out." It's not just the second option that (stinks), but the first - the existing (high) school where everyone lowers the bar until the bar is merely "show up."

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carla
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #2 - Apr 12th, 2008 at 4:11pm
 
In other words, it's not that great for society if (a failing student) manages to creep across the finish line and graduate. ... He's still a kid with very low academic skills. The win is not much of a win. The option should be "Graduate from a high school which features only rigorous classes" or '"Bank the money we want to invest in your education and do your own thing for a while."

Let's say that instead of 50 percent taking the dropout option in the short term, 70 percent would take the "drop out and bank the money" option. That'd be great, if scary! The schools would then have the 30 percent who want to be there. The teachers would like their jobs more. In future years, it'd be easy to get the 31st percent, the 32nd, etc ... because younger students would perceive school as meaningful, and would be more likely to choose it. We'd keep adding kids who chose "rigorous high school" until we reached equilibrium.

Meanwhile, we'd create a plausible "later in life" high school and higher education pipeline through the set-asides. ... The existence of that dropout fund money would attract a whole bunch of education reform entrepreneurs.

My view: This is a very contrarian approach. Many of the big brains in education policy have been talking about going in the opposite direction - raising the legal school-leaving age from 16 to 18. Goldstein would make this pitch to teachers: "Would you support a massive change where only 11th- and 12th-graders who wanted to be here were here, and your classes would be a lot more challenging?"

Ever the cranky realist, I can't imagine that any school board would ever approve the Goldstein plan. But at the very least, I think he has focused on something most antidropout schemes ignore. Many kids that age cannot stand to be in school, no matter how winning the teachers or how understanding the counselors or how high-tech the vocational arts program. They have to get out of there.

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carla
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #3 - Apr 12th, 2008 at 4:12pm
 
I am no cowboy, but I seem to have read somewhere that there is no point in getting in the way of a stampede. So one rational answer might be: "Let them go. They will eventually get tired, and you can round them up." Something like that might work for restless teens, if administered by talented educators like Goldstein.

Jay Mathews puts together the Challenge Index, published each year by Newsweek, which ranks the "best" high schools in America, including several in the Tampa Bay area.
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still_here
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #4 - Apr 12th, 2008 at 4:28pm
 
Teacher's union would never let it happen.  School districts like Cairo would lose the revenue from the students that drop out and would have to lay off too many teachers.  Unions wont let it happen.

One of the biggest problems I think we have with our public school system is tenured teachers.  They stop having to inspire children to learn & just show up to teach a course.

How many jobs do you know of outside of a socialist country, do you get to keep your job after you have been at it 5-7 years no matter what. What other job guarantees you a job for life without repercussions for poor performance.  From that point on you can call in sick, sleep on the job, just tell the students to read a chapter & test on Friday without worrying about your job rating.  We have a group of teachers around the country just like this.  Carla how many teachers do you think are like this teaching your kids right now?
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« Last Edit: Apr 12th, 2008 at 6:15pm by still_here »  
 
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carla
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #5 - Apr 12th, 2008 at 7:16pm
 
still_here wrote on Apr 12th, 2008 at 4:28pm:
How many jobs do you know of outside of a socialist country, do you get to keep your job after you have been at it 5-7 years no matter what. What other job guarantees you a job for life without repercussions for poor performance.


I know of one! Being on the Cairo City Council!! Actually, you described many government positions in the U.S. And even in the semi-privatized U.S.P.S.

still_here wrote on Apr 12th, 2008 at 4:28pm:
Carla how many teachers do you think are like this teaching your kids right now?


One for sure. Possibly two. The rest seem pretty good.


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yodell
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #6 - Apr 12th, 2008 at 8:41pm
 
still_here wrote on Apr 12th, 2008 at 4:28pm:
Teacher's union would never let it happen.  School districts like Cairo would lose the revenue from the students that drop out and would have to lay off too many teachers.  Unions wont let it happen.

One of the biggest problems I think we have with our public school system is tenured teachers.  They stop having to inspire children to learn & just show up to teach a course.

How many jobs do you know of outside of a socialist country, do you get to keep your job after you have been at it 5-7 years no matter what. What other job guarantees you a job for life without repercussions for poor performance.  From that point on you can call in sick, sleep on the job, just tell the students to read a chapter & test on Friday without worrying about your job rating.  We have a group of teachers around the country just like this.  Carla how many teachers do you think are like this teaching your kids right now?


Someone finally mentioned the teachers' union and the tenured teachers.
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carla
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #7 - May 10th, 2008 at 8:31pm
 
I have two kids at the junior/senior high and they give high marks for most of their teachers. There are a couple teachers they believe should not be teaching, because they AREN'T teaching. Most are great...a couple need to go.
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still_here
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #8 - May 11th, 2008 at 3:47am
 
So does the school board know about these "teacher"?  Or better yet do the students that want to go to college know which classes these teacher teach to avoid them so they can get an education?
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CairoGrad2004
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #9 - May 11th, 2008 at 4:42pm
 
Do students really have enough teachers and classes to choose from? Just as an example, students who would start at Algebra II math level as a freshman (if it happens to be offered that year, otherwise they will be put back into Algebra I) would have Geometry as a sophomore, but then what's next? Unless the courses offered have changed since I've been there, Geometry was the highest level math class available and I'm pretty sure most colleges still require three years of high school math.
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carla
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #10 - May 11th, 2008 at 10:48pm
 
CairoGrad2004 wrote on May 11th, 2008 at 4:42pm:
Unless the courses offered have changed since I've been there, Geometry was the highest level math class available and I'm pretty sure most colleges still require three years of high school math.  


I'm not sure which courses are offered through the Illinois Virtual High School, but we should check into that. ("We" meaning Still_Here and New Cairoite, lol)

Anyway, Cairo is listed as being part of the Illinois Virtual High School on the State Board of Ed's website. But when I inquired about my daughter taking courses online...the idea was shot down immediately at the high school. By the secretary Cry Roll Eyes Lips Sealed
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still_here
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #11 - May 11th, 2008 at 11:08pm
 
Some kids when they turn 16 take classes during summer & nights from Shawnee College.
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #12 - May 12th, 2008 at 2:17am
 
When I went to school, my senior year I only went for three hours and then attended Shawnee College courses for the remainder of the day. Definitely would be something to look into for students. It doesn't make sense for a student to not work as hard in order to be able to get accepted into college....so either seek opportunities outside the high school or play dumb in math class.  Undecided
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carla
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Re: Let them drop out
Reply #13 - May 16th, 2008 at 4:18pm
 
They have a program for students who are behind in school in which they can take courses at Shawnee for one year. But are you talking about taking first year college courses at Shawnee? (while still in high school?)
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