Monday, September 8, 2008

They Can Drop Out, But Where Can They Hide?

According to researchers from John Hopkins University, one in ten U.S. high schools should be labeled a ‘Dropout Factory.’ Associated Press reports, "It's a nickname no principal could be proud of: 'Dropout Factory,' a high school where no more than 60 percent of the students who start as freshmen make it to their senior year." The U.S. Department of Education reports that 30 percent of our kids across the nation never make it to a high school diploma anyway. That’s three out of every ten! I also understand that number does not include the kids who drop out, but get a G.E.D. high school equivalency certificate at a later date.

So, what I want to know is, where do these kids go? What kind of society are we creating? As an educator, and a mother whose boys would never have made it if I left them to the system (late readers, dyslexic and more) I think there but Grace go I.

We create our high school students in kindergarten. If we lose them from the starting gate, not enough of them catch up. Kids who can’t read well enough, or can’t write well enough, or can’t pass state math exit exams, don’t get better in high school. They get lost.

When it was obvious our boys were going to be late readers, we first put them in a Montessori system where they could go at their own neurological and psychological rate. Then, when our local Montessori stopped at the fourth-fifth grade, we created our own school. Both boys graded UCLA in their areas of strength, math and computer electronics. They were fortunate. We were proactive.

So what if our local public schools were more developmental on the elementary school level. What if they taught the three R’s at each child’s individual rate. No more children being dragged through curriculum when they cannot keep up. No more children bored to death and turning off at a young age, because they already knew the material and needed to go faster. No more high school dropouts.

So here’s my final question. When rain falls, we know where it goes. Some of it goes into rivers, lakes and oceans. Some of it waters our flowers. And some of it falls into our sewers. Where, every year, do these million high school dropouts go? We absorb them into our communities, our society. Do some end up making things blossom? Or do they end up in the sewer? What do you think the probabilities are? If this system does not work for so many kids, isn’t it time we rethink it?

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