Sunday, January 28, 2007

Ideas to halt dropping out abound at summit

Quote of the day.

My schooling not only failed to teach me what it professed to be teaching, but prevented me from being educated to an extent which infuriates me when I think of all I might have learned at home by myself.
--George Bernard Shaw

The post below is about the summit to try to halt dropout rates in our public schools. A number of people attended the session but I do not see that a large group of dropouts attended the meeting. It seems if you want to halt the dropout rates in public schools you should speak to dropouts.

Recently New Hampshire changed the age of mandatory education from 16 to 18 this change may only increase the dropout rates. While others States have recently decreased the mandatory age of attendance from 18 to 16 New Hampshire took a step backgrounds by increasing the age to 18.

One of the major problems with public schools is that the are a one size fits all education system with little room for diversity especially when it comes to thinking. The best solution is choice, choice for both parent and child to decide what is the best forum for the child to reach their full potential. However our public education system spends more time serving the teachers, administrators and those who attach themselves to the gravy train than the very people they are to serve the students.

The following story appeared in the Union Leader.

Ideas to halt dropping out abound at summit
Sunday News Staff

Manchester – It took just six hours to come up with more than two dozen strategies to keep kids in school, and organizers of yesterday's city summit on reducing the dropout rate hailed it as "tremendous start."

About 150 educators, parents, community organizers and students gathered for the summit, sponsored by the Makin' It Happen Coalition and held at Southern New Hampshire University.

Among the ideas that emerged:

More alternative education and training programs.
In-school suspension with academic and other support.
Better communication with parents.
Earlier intervention for struggling students.
After-school programs.
Partnerships with local businesses.
Mentoring to promote teacher-student interaction.
Bringing social services directly into the schools.
Tym Rourke, executive director of Makin' It Happen, said organizers will compile all the ideas that came out of yesterday into a planning document for future strategy sessions.

Mary Heath, deputy commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Education, told the group the latest data shows a slight decline in New Hampshire's dropout rate last year. "We are looking to that as a positive sign that all of your efforts are working," she said.

Heath also said raising the compulsory school attendance age, as Gov. John Lynch has advocated, "sends a message to every single student across the state of New Hampshire that a high school diploma is an essential ingredient for life, and that every student in the state of New Hampshire is so important that we want them to have a high school diploma."

Kathy Hamilton of the Boston Private Industry Council was the morning's keynote speaker. That group convened a task force that looked at the dropout problem in Boston's public schools and proposed solutions.

Hamilton noted dropouts are less likely to get jobs, and more likely to be incarcerated or need social services, than their peers. Her group estimated the cost to society for someone to drop out is $425,000 over a lifetime.

"It's a human crisis because the consequences are so dire," she said. "But it's also an economic issue that affects each and every one of us."

Hamilton also showed a chart estimating the lifetime earnings of Massachusetts residents who attain certain education levels. Someone without a high school diploma could be expected to earn $954,407, while someone with a high school diploma or the equivalent jumps to nearly $1.4 million. An associate's degree brings that up to $1.8 million; a bachelor's degree could earn you nearly $2.8 million.

"People talk about winning the lottery," Hamilton said. "Really, all you've got to do is stay in school."

Members of the Mayor's Youth Advisory Council were among about a dozen students who lent their insights to yesterday's sessions. The MYAC has been conducting focus groups on the dropout issue and plans to report its findings to city leaders this spring.

Fred Bramante, a member of the State Board of Education, closed out the day's events, sharing the story of his own transformation, from a student who finished near the bottom of his high school class to a successful businessman and policymaker. "School taught me I was not very bright -- and life taught me that school was wrong," he said. "But I remember what it felt like."

Bramante suggested that all youngsters "have something special inside them," and it's up to the school system to find and nurture their interests, passions and dreams. "It's not about all. It's about each," he said.

1 comment:

Nels said...

The dropout rate for homeschoolers is roughly zero. After all, if homeschool just isn't working out for the student, he and his parents can simply change what they're doing to make it work. They can give the kid what he needs, when he needs it.

That's the one solution to the dropout problem, and it's the one solution that the public schools can never use.