Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The NEA on the Dropout Crisis


A couple of months ago the NEA released a 12-point plan to cut down the dropout rate in the country; it’s also the topic of Reg Weaver’s column in the most recent issue of NEA Today. It’s the usual stuff that we’ve heard before, but there are some things in there that are worth thought:

2) Establish high school graduation centers for students 19-21 years old to provide specialized instruction and counseling to all students in this older age group who would be more effectively addressed in classes apart from younger students.

Which goes nicely with

5) Increase career education and workforce readiness programs in schools so that students see the connection between school and careers after graduation. To ensure that students have the skills they need for these careers, integrate 21st century skills into the curriculum and provide all students with access to 21st century technology.

Career education has been nearly completely overlooked in the run to make sure that every child is college ready, in my opinion. There’s nothing wrong with being a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter—in those jobs, you’ll probably make more than a teacher, so more power to you.

Another good point:

3) Make sure students receive individual attention in safe schools, in smaller learning communities within large schools, in small classes (18 or fewer students), and in programs during the summer, weekends, and before and after school that provide tutoring and build on what students learn during the school day.

It’s nice to see them acknowledge that the school day as constructed might not be enough for some kids. Washington Learns also touched on this principle, and one of the big things I’m looking for in the draft report is to see if they actually keep it in.

But you take the good with the bad, and when you talk about the bad:

1) Mandate high school graduation or equivalency as compulsory for everyone below the age of 21. Just as we established compulsory attendance to the age of 16 or 17 in the beginning of the 20th century, it is appropriate and critical to eradicate the idea of "dropping out" before achieving a diploma. To compete in the 21st century, all of our citizens, at minimum, need a high school education.

I can’t see that working well at all. If you want to keep kids in school give them choices that make them want to be there, but simply saying, “You’ve got to be here” isn’t enough.

In short, this was a thoughtful piece from the NEA, and I applaud them for putting it out there. The test will be to see if they follow it up with as much diligence as they do their other issues, but this is a good start. Thumbs up!

1 Comments:

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