http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keli-goff/a-scandal-more-shameful-t_b_184728.html is about the high school dropout problem, one that is, in many of the comprehensive high schools here in USD 259, more troublesome than nationally.
The studies cited in the link as to the costs to the general public are to be noted. My thought is that, if anything, the costs given are understated.
How to deal with the problem is outside my paygrade. What I fear is that there will be a knee-jerk reaction (when this finally does get noticed) to the problem, which may well result in some locales in the bad result of “dumbing down” high school even more, as it will be the considered opinion of many that high school is too challenging academically for many students, which results in their frustration and ultimate decision to quit. That may seem to be the easy and quick answer, and one which is incorrect.
Many dropouts are bored students of high intellectual abilities for whom the lack of academic challenge wears on them to the point they see no reason to continue. Some of the lack of challenging curricula is due to the strictures placed on school districts by NCLB; to get “all students proficient”, there has to be (under current budgetary constraints) something sacrificed, and too often, these are honors courses. Other students are, indeed, intellectually challenged and become frustrated because they cannot do the work demanded. Many just don’t care, period, having not observed any particular advantage to a high school diploma.
Part of the problem is the insistence of our educational system that all grades have a chronological, rather than an ability, basis. Another part of the problem is that too many parents and others resist a more rigorous academic environment on the basis that we should “just let kids be kids”. Yet another part of the problem is the attitudes of parents towards school, and another part is the American attitude of “those who can, do; those who can’t, teach”.
It is our money, our society, our economy that is at risk here. I’ve done a bit of mentoring, and plan to get more involved now that (due to unfortunate circumstances) I’ve more time for it. Mentors, however, won’t do it alone. We need a total overhaul of the public (and private) educational system here in the U.S., which will admittedly be costly. It is my position that the costs of the overhaul will not be as expensive as those costs realized from ignoring the problem.