Social Question

JLeslie's avatar

What is your solution to the High School dropout problem in the US?

Asked by JLeslie (46194 points ) September 9th, 2009

I heard on Face the Nation last weekend that 75% of our public high school dropouts nationwide come from 2000 of our public schools. That is an amazing statistic, assuming I understood it correctly. What would you suggest to do about these 2000 schools that have been identified?

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98 Answers

seVen's avatar

Mandatory boot camp for as long as the person still doesn’t get it that without High School , you’ll be working in hell like conditions similar/worse than bootcamp.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

Each of those schools resides in a community with multiple social problems. Poverty. Gangs. Drug dealers. Absence of positive role models and positive motivators. It’s a wonder that the dropout rate in these schools isn’t higher than it already is. The kids who do succeed get out of the communities that breed the problems, so it’s a vicious cycle.

JLeslie's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex so maybe we ship them out like @seVen said, not necessarily boot camp, but some sort of boarding school, and get them away from the bad environment.

Facade's avatar

Not to sound uncaring, but I don’t see how you can make a person do something they don’t want to do. If these kids don’t want to go to school, they won’t. No, I have no solution to the problem.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@JLeslie , I’m not suggesting that. A child belongs with his family. The problem is how do you strengthen the family. When I was pursuing my teaching certificate, I interned in quite a few schools, including a high school in one of the poorest parts of Chicago. I met some bright, motivated kids there. Every one of those kids had a strong family member looking out for them; most often this was a mother or grandmother, but it was always someone who was engaged in the kid’s life.

It was exactly the same in the affluent suburban schools I worked in. If I had a kid who wasn’t achieving, getting the parents on board always worked. The ones who truly astonished me were the ones who found self-motivation despite difficult circumstances at home. But they were the exceptions. The most difficult time I had was with kids whose parents had essentially abdicated responsibility, expecting us to provide them with all the structure and discipline they would need to succeed in life.

I don’t think this is a problem we can solve from the outside. You have to get to that one mother or grandmother somehow.

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade you might be able to argue that these children are not really doing what they want to do. Peer pressure and circumstance are affecting their decisions. Change the circumstance and the pressures, and the attitude of the child will change.

JLeslie's avatar

@IchtheosaurusRex I agree that it is the family and community that affects these outcomes more than the school itself. But, in communities like what I see in Memphis, where I live, I do think sometimes just get them the hell out of there. Because, no matter how well intentioned the parents there are still bullets flying in those neigborhoods.

Facade's avatar

@JLeslie If that’s possible, great, but I just don’t see it happening.

SundayKittens's avatar

Parents need to step the @#%^ up and be parents…otherwise don’t have kids. I SAID IT!

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade Oh, reality. Yes, I think you are probably right, because it would be a fortune in tax money. I have no idea if the parents would go for it? I didn’t mean the state would forceably remove the child. Although, I think children under 16 are required by law to go to school, or get an education I guess is more PC, so if the child drops out at the age od 15, I guess technically the state can intervene?

rottenit's avatar

I am an 8 time high-school dropout. Coming from an average suburban high-school (mostly upper middle class, although my family would be considered lower middle class).

I think there are various reasons why people drop out, and there is no “magic bullet” fix for it, some people do it because they need money to support their family as one of my friends did.

I did it because I was board, high school was not interesting for me, if I had to do it over again I would bite the bullet and just deal with it but at that stage of my life and maturity I couldn’t handle it. I don’t think anything would have stopped me.

As for family I can’t blame my parents, they got sick of the constant fights and arguments that resulted from me not wanting to go to school. To the point of calling the cops to get me to go.

Maybe we need to stop force feeding a one curriculum fits all mentality and try to embrace high-school students talents and interests?

What would have worked for me? Maybe a boot-camp style boarding school where I had no options? I have no clue, college wasn’t a big hit either.

SundayKittens's avatar

As a student teacher I taught in one of these schools…and I have to say….seeing and hearing about their life outside of school, you get the undeniable feeling that homework is usually the least of their problems, thus usually the last thing worried about.

And after seeing and hearing what I did, I couldn’t blame them.

ubersiren's avatar

Kids can really thrive when given the opportunity. When they grow up without knowledge of that opportunity, knowing that their life can only go in a few directions, then that’s where they’ll end up. If they know that their parents dropped out and went on welfare, then they’ll think, “I guess that’s normal; it works for them, and it’ll work for me.”

I watched this documentary about a boarding school program in Kenya. It was pretty good, a little depressing… but from watching it, it appears that some of the kids actually were given some guidance. Now, I’m not sure who would pay for this on a scale that would put a dent in the drop-out rate, but it seems like a great way to instill some direction in kids who otherwise would probably never receive any.

One thing that is evident is that money doesn’t fix everything. I have a friend who installs computer systems in schools in the Baltimore and DC area- an area known for high drop out rates. These schools, which are among the most destitute, are getting the most state-of-the-art equipment because they have funding for it. They have funding for it because more money is being spent in low-income area schools. I know it’s not all like this, but this is an example. Despite all the money being poured into better equipment and things like that, the drop-out rates are only climbing. Perhaps it could be filtered to programs like the Kenya school. And it doesn’t even have to be overseas… what if the kids went to different parts of the US? One great aspect of the US is its vast diversity- in the land, the people, and culture. They could be taken on a rotation of different career, life and personal experiences. Seeing a life outside the bleak streets can be enlightening.

Facade's avatar

@JLeslie Adding to the jail capacities. I’m not trying to bog you down, just showing how unrealistic things are.

JLeslie's avatar

@rottenit I’m not sure you are the student we are talking about, because you were probably not attending one of those 2000 schools. You just were hating high school, I hated it too. I wanted to drop out also, but didn’t. Your comment is valid, that schools need to make things more interesting and I think have flexible programs. The worst part of HS for me was getting up at o’dark hundred. It was almost impossible fro me to drag myself out of bed. My senior year I was able to sleep and extra hour, take more classes I was interested in, and I was allowed to graduate mid-year, so I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade I don’t mean put them in jail, I want to keep these kids out of jail, that is part of the point. Or, maybe you mean the parents go to jail? I don’t want that either. I just meant that the state might technically have the power to ship a kid off to boarding school if such an option existed. But, again, even if the option existed I would not think we sould forceable take children from their homes.

IchtheosaurusRex's avatar

@JLeslie , if you want to stop the bullets from flying, you have to stop the crime. To stop the crime, you must do the unconscionable: legalize drugs. You will lose fewer kids to addiction than you will to gangs and prison – but this society will never have the courage to take such a bold measure.

JLeslie's avatar

@ubersiren My girlfriend sold softwear to schools in MI. Detroit, which has horrible dropout rates and scores got the most money to spend on products like hers. The money didn’t matter. Just agreeing with you :).

casheroo's avatar

I think people fail to realize that there are many reasons people drop out of high school. It’s not all just because of lack of parental units, or it’s a bad area so it has a higher drop out rate. Sometimes there are social reasons (mainly my reason) for dropping out.

Yes, I do regret dropping out, but at the time it was the only solution to the problem. My high school probably has a high drop out rate because of the location.

I think what needs to change is certain parts of society itself. The places with the worst drop out rates are probably (and this is only my theory, I’m not going any research) the schools in the “ghetto” where they don’t have the money to help with anything, in dangerous neighborhoods where it’s hard to get ahead without doing stupid crap. We need to start at the beginning. Start a lot of afterschool programs, before school programs, free tutoring and activities to keep children concentrated on school. Make it a safe haven, and not a place they dread to go.
I think people automatically stereotype drop outs, which is another part of the problem. People then think that they can’t rise above it, when that is so not true. You can still go to college, and then having your GED doesn’t even matter. No one even asks or cares once you accomplish even some college. (or so it seems)

SundayKittens's avatar

@casheroo….“Safe Haven” is the key there….good point.

JLeslie's avatar

@casheroo I do agree that our negative stereotypes as a society hurts the situation even more. I can understand why drop outs would feel insecure or have less self esteem, because of the idea in their heads of how they are judged. It is interesting that a lot of people on Fluther did not finish high school. Mostly, I don’t think people judge the child, I think people believe the system, familly or society failed in some way. Also, I agree that it doesn’t matter if someone was home-schooled, got their GED, was an honor student in school, or in the bottom of their class, once you get the diploma/certificate none of it matters, especially years later, but it can affect what college you can get into if you want to go to college. But, many of the drop-outs in the lower income areas are not moving forward after dropping out. It’s so complicated, but I would guess there must be things all of these schools have in common to have such large drop out rates relative to the rest of the nation.

I, actually, am a big proponent of having strong vocational programs in HS’s so children can have a focus and skills for when they graduate. Programs that encourage apprenticeships. And, schools that allow for early graduation, like I was able to do. My mother and father also, both finished high school early.

CMaz's avatar

“What is your solution to the High School dropout problem in the US?”

Dont have kids.

JLeslie's avatar

@ChazMaz on a more serious note, teenage pregnancy is a part of this I think.

CMaz's avatar

“on a more serious note, teenage pregnancy is a part of this I think.”

Yes true, forget Government Health care.
Have Uncle Same pay for voluntary vasectomy and Tubal ligation for 13 year olds.

WIth reversal surgery offered till the age of 28.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I think there is a need for alternatives, especially for kids who don’t respond to conventional teaching/learning programs. Not only “special education”(that term has become abused over the years), but also programs that include basic life skills.

JLeslie's avatar

@ChazMaz You are not serious?

JLeslie's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Yes, I love that idea. I think there should be a semester class containing skills on saving money, how to write a check, relationships, basic etiquette, what is required when you rent an apartment or buy a house, basic bills we all pay, and more. A very practical class about being out there on your own.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

I also think some kids would respond well to a “boot camp” style program, or some kind of boarding school; these types of programs would be able to provide a structured environment that just can not exist in some homes.

JLeslie's avatar

@Yetanotheruser So invest in building public boarding schools? Is there such a thing already? I have no idea? It seems like it would be worth a test run.

I would want it to be beautiful and inspiring not a boot camp like a prison.. not a punishment, but a place kids want to go…see as an opportunity.

wundayatta's avatar

Make school relevant. Teach to students, not to tests. Give kids real work to do. Work that matters to the community. Base this work on their interests. Teach teachers how to treat students as individuals, each of whom needs to be taught differently.

critter1982's avatar

To be quite honest, do nothing. You can’t force a kid who does not want to go to school, to go to school. If you can force them to go to school, likely what will happen is they will be a nuisance and disruptive to the kids that actually do want to learn. Since beating them is no longer an option let them drop out. Let them figure out that without a high school degree or GED, one can barely support themselves without living at home with their parents and then possibly they will go to some sort of vocational school. High school is not meant for everyone.

ragingloli's avatar

Make school mandatory until the age of 18 or until the degree

CMaz's avatar

You think that there is an easy solution?

JLeslie's avatar

@critter1982 I hated going to school but I was not a nuisance or disruptive. I was tired. If my parents had not had an expectation of me completing school there is a good chance I would have dropped out.

CMaz's avatar

“To be quite honest, do nothing. You can’t force a kid who does not want to go to school, to go to school.”

And there is the problem.

There was a time you could.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@JLeslie In many school districts there are school buildings that are no longer used for classes. Some are used for admin, some for storage, etc. Alternative programs such as those we’re discussing could be placed there.

@critter1982 That is exactly the point of providing alternative educational opportunities. Maybe it will be more in line of a training program, or a baccalaureate program, where some achievements in High school can be applied to college credits or certification in a chosen field. I think the most important innovation we can inject into the educational system is flexibility. Teach to the students, not to tests, as @daloon stated. This would include the flexibility to give certain students hands-on experience in certain fields because that’s how thay learn.
.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

@ChazMaz If there was an easy solution, this solution would already have been applied and the question would be moot.

critter1982's avatar

@daloon: I agree with you. Lots of school subject material is irrelevant to the real world. We need to start teaching kids the essentials, like balancing your checkbook, how to purchase a home, how to interview, etc. Instead we teach them complex fractions, binomial theorems, logarithms, matrix inversions, etc., all with not the least bit of relevance to real life. Keep in mind at least 95% of the kids do not need to know this, but only for their next math class at which point they forget all they’ve learned because they never use it. We also need to teach to students and not to tests like you’ve said. The reason we don’t currently do this is because of the standardized testing some of the states require. Some states require a continual improvement in these standardized student taken tests. Since these tests have no bearing on whether the kids can actually graduate, they are not taken seriously, but are considered gospel in defining how well the school is actually performing. Hence, teachers are now told to teach to the tests so the state doesn’t put their schools on probation. After 3 years on probation they state begins to get rid of employees starting with the principal and eventually going down to individual teachers.

@JLeslie: Your parents should be forcing you to go to school until you are 18 and can make that decision for yourself, not the state. State mandatory schooling after the age of 18 is borderline communism. Some kids just aren’t made for high school.

ragingloli's avatar

@critter1982
So schools should just turn kids into worker drones with minimal knowledge?
I absolutely disagree. It should give ALL students the knowledge and tools to pursue higher education, e.g. go to university, and higher maths is a crucial component to that. You can add an hour or two to the school week for the home and finance management stuff you want, but not teaching the complex topics to kids because you think they are not “relevant” is just ludicrous.
If only 5 percent need it then we should aim to increase that percentage drastically, not dropping the topics altogether and making life harder for the 5 percent.

JLeslie's avatar

@critter1982 I am only talking about their expectation. My dad has a Phd, my mom a BA, my maternal GRANDMOTHER a masters, my grandfather almost completed his masters. It seemed impossible that someone in my family would not get an education. My mother HATED school, literally once I was in Jr high she said on the subject of attending parents day to meet the teachers, “I hated school and if I don’t have to go in, I’m not going.” Don’t get me wrong, my sister had to be taken out of class in elem for help with speech, and my mom made sure the school provided it, she would have helped us if we needed it. My parents did not pressure me to get all A’s, just to get through. I just always knew my mom HATED school; It was just something you did, even if you hated it. If my parents had been uneducated and not emphasized school, I might have dropped out. Now, some kids are not good at school, or not able, that is different maybe? I could do the work, just didn’t want to. Luckily, my school had many electives, and I had some classes I enjoyed.

@daloon some schools do provide some practical classes, I know that my friend who teaches outside of St Louis, MO, her HS does some of that, but I think that is not the norm.

CMaz's avatar

We have allowed our children to call the shots in school.

Sometimes it is good for children to be seen and not heard. But, now everyone has an opinion. Even before they have developed one.

We have become too liberal, and too over populated. It might seem harsh but drastic measures need to be done.

Figuring out how to stop teen pregnancy would save us billions in health care over the years. And, would allow our children to focus on their future.

Too many distractions in school. Mothers work as many, if not more, hours then the fathers. Someone needs to stay home while the child is in school. How do we make that happen?
The stay at home mother has been replaced with strangers and video games. Or worse, no one.
Bring back a solid value of what family means. Today’s youth need to to take their head out of cyber space and get back to community involvement. Scouting and such.

There was a time that education was a privilege. Something to cherish and be proud of.
My generation ( I am 45) had parents that did not graduate school. Hey had to work. They saw and bestowed on us how vital education was/is.

Today it is taken for granted, and everyone slides. Slides right in front of the playstation.

critter1982's avatar

@ragingloli: You misunderstood my statements. I didn’t say we should stop teaching it entirely. My point was that we teach 95% of kids the binomial theorem when in reality unless you are going to become a math teacher, it is irrelevant to your life. However, things that could be taught which are completely relevant to everyone’s life such as balancing a checkbook are not taught in most public schools. We force artistic minded kids who will never go into anything math related, into subjects like this and expect them to either do well or pretend like they are interested in the class, because we want “well rounded children”.

aprilsimnel's avatar

I believe there needs to be a closer look at what the purpose of school is after age 12. I’m not kidding. As it is, it seems as though middle and high school (and today, university) has as its main function keeping kids and young people out of the labour force until it’s no longer possible to do so.

Perhaps we need a system like that in many European countries where 11–12 year olds are tested for their aptitudes, skills and interests, and are placed in learning environments that suit their needs. The current US system is much like @critter1982 is describing, and it’s helping very few students at the moment.

JLeslie's avatar

@aprilsimnel I had a discussion similar to what you are suggesting with my sister-in-law about a year ago. I see the benefits of both systems. I think it is great for children to get to explore subjects they might not have if it were decided at a very young age what their path was going to be in school. I think having great elective options is better than deciding a certain 12 year old will probably make it to college and a different one will be a mechanic. I did not buckle down in school until my senior year. My father did not learn to read until 3rd grade and then by high school was in a special program because he was so advanced. My father had the disadvantage of a very dysfunctional immigrant family with a father who was schizophrenic. I’m glad the system gave him a chance to perform.

Judi's avatar

I haven’t read all the posts yet. I figured I’d give my answers then see if anyone agreed with me.
First I’d start creating a few square holes. We have been trying to hammer every kid into round holes and everyone knows you can’t put a square peg in a round hole.
I would also bring vocational training back to highschool. Quit thinking everyone is college bound. The world needs brilliant plumbers, mechanics, carpenters and chefs as well as doctors lawyers and engineers. Preparing kids to go to work is just as important as preparing them for college.

dalepetrie's avatar

I don’t have time to read everything everyone else said today and post what I’m going to post, so forgive me if some of this is redundant. But I think there are a few problems with school.

1) Much of it is not engaging to students, I remember the students in school who were in the most danger of dropping out just plain did not see anything interesting about school, did not see how it related to them or how they could possibly use it in the real world. To some degree they were right….no one really needs to know dates of when things occurred, that’s trivia and not everyone is interested in trivia. But so much of what is taught in history is names and dates, and less is taught about overall movements and what they mean. Geography is the same thing….we worry about capitals and ignore the rest of the countries….if we taught more about the cultures and the regions, kids would be more engaged and informed and ready to deal with the current world. Math has a myriad of real world applications, but a lot of kids don’t see that, we should worry less about what happens when train a is going 100mph and train b is going 60 mph, and more about what happens when Bob earns $10.50 an hour and works 22 hours a week, pays $500 a month rent, $50 a month in utilities….how much can he spend each day on meals.

2) So much of school doesn’t teach kids to think…the whole basis of school should be critical thinking, not teaching to standardized tests. What determines success in the future is the ability to think and to apply knowledge, but we teach kids to memorize and retrieve, and even our college system is increasingly becoming more vocational focused, training people to learn the terminology of their craft and the steps to performing the busywork involved.

3) Assessment is crucial. Though we need to train everyone to think critically from an early age, we have to learn to recognize the signs of people with different types of aptitudes and as kids get older, we need to engage them in different ways….teaching the more intellectually gifted kids is going to be a completely different process than teaching the more mechanically inclined kids. Stop forcing every kid into shop or home ec AND algebra.

ubersiren's avatar

A very good point by @daloon. That’s sort of what I was driving at. If the kids are given a chance to explore different options they will find something that interests them. That interest is sometimes all that’s needed to keep a child in one place. So, the curriculum needs to be broadened and altered. I think the general course through school is outdated. Growing up, I’d never heard of a Magnet school. This is one example of how to pique a child’s interests. Letting them know of options such as Magnet schools (or changing the system to make this type of schooling more common and available) could give them the edge they need to seek further education.

I never understood the one road way through school. It is against human nature as far as I’m concerned.

DominicX's avatar

@ubersiren

Here’s one problem I have with this: what do you do with kids who change their mind? People change their mind about majors in college, so I’d imagine that younger kids might be even more likely to change their mind? What do you do about a kid who thinks they know what they want to study but discovers something later and decides that now they want to change their area of focus? How easy should it be to change?

Also, I just thought I’d say that I went to a magnet school for elementary school (K-5). There were other public schools I could’ve gone to, but my parents sent me to that one. Its focus was technology and communication arts. But that was elementary. I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life at that age.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It costs a lot of money to broaden out the educational system to encompass students’ greater needs. No one will want to pay for it. So what do we do?

Judi's avatar

@aprilsimnel ; We will choose short term selfish interests over long term community interest and we, like other countries that have gotten arrogant in their success will cease to be a world power and will go the way of Rome, and Greece.

Facade's avatar

@Judi That’s so true

CMaz's avatar

Also, stop making life to unobtainable for your children.
Cel-phones, flat screen TV’s, latest and greatest Video Game console, and PC.

What happen to just owning a bike?

They are so overwhelmed, having to Keep up with the Jones’s. They either have no choice but to stay home. SInce mommy and daddy have all the “toys” or they give up feeling they will never have.

ubersiren's avatar

@DominicX : Well, they could change their minds whenever they liked. I mean, I don’t have a definite solution, but one idea would be that there isn’t a limit to how long they have to earn their educations. Maybe if they haven’t completed their degree by age 18 they can choose to continue on their own dime, or a loan if tax payers didn’t want to pay for it after that age. Another option could be to offer accelerated courses. That way, if Sally changes her mind, she can make up for lost time in her new chosen interest. Another option yet, is to earn a general degree. If you didn’t complete one whole course (maybe you finished parts of 4 different courses) you will have earned a general degree, as long as all classes were passed. The point is to get the experience, not to get a piece of paper with something specific.

Also, not every school would offer these rotations. Some could remain the traditional k-12.

Elementary school may be too early. I would certainly think so. Children would probably do better if they entered a specialized interest on their own terms. Not when they’re 8 and their parents want them to. Although, the experience certainly couldn’t hurt. As long as their learning general skills, throwing in a rotation of career ideas is never a bad thing.

There are an infinite number of options here.

@aprilsimnel : It may cost a lot of money, but I’m not convinced it would be that significant. We’re not adding more of something, we’re making things different . Instead of having 50 high schools in a district with the same basic curriculum, maybe we can have 20 with the traditional courses, 5 tech schools, 5 art schools, 5 science schools, etc. But as in my description, perhaps if we eliminated these new computers with flat screen monitors for every student, we would have money for better programs. The outcome would be more well-rounded graduates with potential for success. These will be the new tax payers capable of continuing funding for such programs. More tax payers coupled with redirected (and even cut) spending is one way to get more money where we need it. Just like @Judi mentioned, we are not a culture which is inclined to invest in the greater good, so probably nothing will come of it.

I’m not admitting to have the solution, but these are options that could be worth exploring.

JLeslie's avatar

Maybe it doesn’t cost that much to change how History is taught as @dalepetrie was saying. That is just the teacher emphasing the reason behind events, what we can learn from history and how the events effecte dthe future, rather than specific dates (history was my worst subject) and geography taught with cultural norms of the area is an amazing idea, had never thought of that. This is all lesson plan stuff, not constructing new buildings or hiring new teachers.

For these bottom 2000 schools though, it is much more than just changing curriculum I think.

JLeslie's avatar

@ubersiren Are you saying that high schools now have a computer for every student? Literally, if the student body is 2000, there are 2000 computers? I don’t have children, so I am unaware of these things. Seems horribly extravagant.

ubersiren's avatar

@JLeslie : No, I’m just talking about some of the low-income area schools which are getting new gadgets, when perhaps they should be getting new ideas. I talked about some equipment that these schools in my area are getting in my first response.

JLeslie's avatar

@ubersiren Oh, I had misunderstood that line, about the computers. I was about to be really annoyed with how they are spending money. I like your idea of children having choice—different types of programs in a district. This is already being done in some places. I know in FL they have magnet programs, an International Elementary, schools for performaing arts, schools for science, etc. NYC has been doing it forever. My aunt (she is in her 60’s) went to Music and Art High School, and my uncle went to Science and Technology.

I understand that a county in Georgia decided to separate High Schools by gender, because their scores were so poor. I like the idea of separating the sexes. I wonder how that did or is doing?

Now I am wondering where those 2000 schools are located?

wundayatta's avatar

@critter1982 I don’t know whether your list of irrelevant topics is all that irrelevant. What I do know is that if you think it is irrelevant you aren’t going to take it seriously. What you need is a project that matters to other people that, in the course of working on it, you will discover you need one of those techniques. Then you’ll have a reason to learn it.

@ChazMazWe have allowed our children to call the shots in school.

Sometimes it is good for children to be seen and not heard. But, now everyone has an opinion. Even before they have developed one.

What evidence can you provide that we are allowing children to call the shots in school? When should children not be heard? Why should we let only those who are deemed qualified to express an opinion? How can people learn without asking questions or making mistakes? How can people be creative if they only follow the rules?

I believe we’ve spoken about this before, but I’ve forgotten what you said about how you came to have the views you have. You tend to make a lot of bombastic statements, but I don’t recall you backing them up with evidence very often. You seem to mostly rely on what you believe to be “common sense.”

Are you one of those “if it was good enough for my parents, it’s good enough for me” people? Or, “I grew up that way, so my kids should, too”?

You can force a kid to sit in a classroom, but you can’t make them pay attention. You can punish them if they forget a fact on a test, but you can’t make them keep the fact after the punishment is over. I find your vision of education, if it is really what you think, to be very sad and unhelpful.

@aprilsimnel Cost is a consideration, of course. However, there are creative ways of getting more out of limited resources. One idea I’m fond of has several pedagogical advantages in addition to using resources more efficiently.

I believe we should rely more on other students to teach their fellow students. Teaching others helps you learn the material more effectively. It helps instill an appreciation of teamwork (instead of competitiveness). It also leads to greater learning, as students have to take more responsibility for their own learning, instead of waiting to be spoon fed whatever it is the teacher or the system wants them to parrot.

alive's avatar

money.

i am going to take a “wild” guess and say that those 2000 schools are also statistically the poorest in the nation.

in my home city the drop out stats were just published. the highs grad rate (75% grad) came out of the richest public school, and the lowest grad rate (30%) came out of the poorest school.

we fund our schools with income tax, and instead of distributing that income tax evenly, we have divided areas into districts, so schools in rich districts benefit, while schools in poor districts suffer, severely.

school districts like LA’s cannot afford to pay teachers so teachers go where they can find jobs…. i.e. better funded schools in richer areas.

it is so simple. but no one in charge is willing to make the change. wonder why!

aprilsimnel's avatar

@daloon – True. The only issue I see is being able to reinforce this behavior at home.

Just for myself, I know that my guardian was not interested in what I was up to at school, as long as I didn’t bring home any Ds or Fs. How do we as a society encourage a more holistic approach to education?

alive's avatar

(continued from my last post):

less teachers = over crowed class rooms = less one on one attention = not addressing problems = children less interested and more confused and more willing to give up.

critter1982's avatar

@daloon: My wife is a high school math teacher, and in Pennsylvania at least, lots of schools are pushing for “learning focused” instruction. In essence, it is what you described, a practical way of showing students how the topics they learn in class correlate to the outside “real” world. She teaches a lot of different math classes including geometry, calculus, pre-calc, algebra, etc. What she has been told with respect to her algebra class is that most of the skills learned in that class are not relevant to the outside world and it is extremely difficult to utilize this “learning focused” program in that particular class. She tells me daily how she hates to teach this class for that very reason. She cannot relate the skills learned in this class to something tangible, hence my argument. I’m not saying a lot of classes are like that but parts of classes are.

JLeslie's avatar

@alive Some of what you said seems to not fit with what the expert on Face The Nation was saying, and for that matter what my girlfriend who sells software to public schools said. The expert said that MORE money goes to lower income schools to balance the fact that the community/parents cannot raise as much money as out in more affluent areas. Not sure if this varies by state? Or, if he was referring to federal funds that are allocated? Where I live outside of Memphis people complain about the schools, but most middle and upper class send their chidlren to private, so those people really don’t give a damn about the public schools I think. I find in the south a lot of it has to do with the racial divide.

JLeslie's avatar

@critter1982 Granted I was a math person, but I don’t get how basic Algebra is not useful? For sure people, adults, get away with not understanding algebra, but I am always amazed that an adult does not know how to figure out 30% off at macy’s, or how much tip to leave. I guess now you can just scan an item and find out the price, and I know someone who has a cheat sheet/table for figuring tips, but still.

alive's avatar

i need to fix a mistake. i wrote “income” but i was *thinking property! that was an opps!

anyways the majority of funds are from property tax, and other funding like state funding can fluctuate based on the fiscal budget and often is stretched pretty thin because they look at schools state wide, not just city or county, and so on.

if they are getting extra money it obviously isnt enough to make up the difference.

http://www.idra.org/Education_Policy.htm/Fair_Funding_for_the_Common_Good/How_your_schools_are_funded/

i would like to add that i seriously doubt that things being taught in the curriculum is the reason kids drop out. people i know who dropped out did so because the school didn’t give a shit about them. schools need smaller class sizes so that kids can feel like they are important, not just another number

JLeslie's avatar

@alive I am not sure I buy into the class size excuse. I think the flexibility for children to excel in subjects they are interested in is even more important. I will never forget my 5th grade teacher telling me I scored at an 8th grade level for math, and I told her math here (I had moved from NY summer before 5th grade) was very easy. She replied that it’s too bad our school didn’t have a program for kids like me. Uh?! In 6th grade 2 of the teachers worked together, and I was able to be in the highest math group available, the teachers broke us into groups and then among the two of them taught different levels, and could offer more choice.

Facade's avatar

@JLeslie Learning curves really do vary from school to school. I went to a Christian private school from k3 to 8th grade and when I decided to go to a public high school, I was ahead as far as writing skills go, but with other A students when it came to all other subjects. My private school didn’t allow its smarter students to excel the way public schools do. I think all kids should be able to test ahead if possible.

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade You make me think of, if I have not mentioned it already on this thread, that large public high schools generally have more options for children than many private schools. I had 4 languages to choose from, computers (which was big when I was young), accounting, auto mechanics, cosmetology, psychology, child developement, and more all offered at my high school. Not to mention through Calculus in math, AP Anatomy and Physiology, plus others. If you needed to take a language not offered or some other class you could usually get a transfer to another school in the county that offered the subject.

casheroo's avatar

@JLeslie You pretty much just described my high school. We had so many programs and classes, and is the largest in the state. But, still has a high drop out rate. I personally tried getting into private catholic schools but they would not accept me (past disciplinary issues) and other private schools were too far or too expensive. My parents could have relinquished their parental rights to my aunt, and I could have moved in there to just get out of the horrible atmosphere that my high school had…but it was just too much. Dropping out really seemed like the best and only option.

JLeslie's avatar

@casheroo Do you think class size would have helped you, or was it the boy/girl thing, or lots of mean girls around? Why was the atmosphere so negative for you at your high school.

casheroo's avatar

@JLeslie Uhh, you know Mean Girls? Yeah, totally based on my high school…I’m not exaggerating.
I also had a lot of emotional issues, and the school district had to step in to help, and we used all the resources they gave us. I entered their VoTech school, for computer graphics…things were getting better. But, I still had to be at the school itself for the basic courses (vocational tech students still need english, math, social studies..) I had a bad experience in 9th grade which made being there unbearable.
I ended up dropping out mid-junior year, and got my GED before my senior year would have started. I then started community college and thrived for a while..but I had other issues as well. So, I think when it comes to drop outs, there are always circumstances that you just can’t help. That has been my experience.

If it were my child, I would be as proactive as I could be but if it were emotionally harming my child to go to school, I would let them drop out but they would have to work and go to college.

wundayatta's avatar

@critter1982 What part of PA? I’m surprised, but pleased to hear this kind of education is being spread around. I’m sure with a bit of brainstorming, teachers could come up with ways to make algebra relevant. I mean, how do you figure out how many more miles you can go before you car runs out of gas? How do you know how big a furnace you need? How do you even calculate the size of your house?

Algebra is used to figure out formulas for all kinds of things we want to know in daily life. How do you estimate how much a project will cost? How do you know what to charge someone for a product, or for your work?

I’m not sure everyone needs to learn calculus, but some do. For some it’s necessary to learn other things they want to learn about. Kids need to see how they can use skills before they learn them. Everyone does. Not too many people are willing to learn stuff on spec.

jca's avatar

a guy i used to work with said his high school teacher used to say “The world is going to need ditch-diggers, too.”

JLeslie's avatar

@casheroo I think these 2000 schools are not kids who are going on for a GED. I don’t really consider you a drop out. I would guess your parents helped or encouraged you to finish school, whether it be home study or something else and get your GED?

casheroo's avatar

@JLeslie Yes, but I am a drop out. Regardless of my circumstances I will always be lumped into the same category as any other drop out. My parents didn’t want me to drop out, but they knew it was for the best and they had to physically sign me out. It was a hard day for them…no one wants that for their child. We did want to do home tutoring, the school was held liable for it…and I did it for half a school year but the resources for that were hard to come by (basically, it was real teachers coming to me..but they needed their teachers at school) We did try that though. With regards to me getting my GED, my parents would not let me drop out unless I got it. Also, in my state because of my age, I needed to work a full time job. So, I worked 40 hours a week, and entered into a GED prep course, it only lasted three months then I took the GED and passed. found out on my 17th birthday actually I still have things to overcome because of this. Only because I still do not have a college degree working on it so you get an application of a person with a GED or HS diploma..they usually go for the diploma.

LostInParadise's avatar

This is a very complicated matter and it has several aspects. Part of the reason for the dropout rate is that the students were not adequately prepared in the lower grades.

Then there is the matter of just how relevant high school education is. Is it really necessary? How much use does anyone make of what they learned in high school? Those that go on to engineering or science make use of the math, but aside from that what practical benefit is high school?

Don’t get me wrong. I am by nature an academic and I value education in and of itself, but the first goal of a high school education should be to prepare people for the real world, and I don’t think high school does a good job of this. If it did, then fewer people would drop out.

Facade's avatar

some engineers don’t even use the math

ragingloli's avatar

@Facade
that must be the ones who design american cars

JLeslie's avatar

@casheroo I understand. I really feel like the system failed you. There should be better alternatives for people who are miserable in school and want to, or are willing to do the work to finish. I think Augustlin’s story is similar to yours? I remember she spoke about it on a different thread.

@LostInParadise I remember a ton of information from HS even though I hated school in general, and rarely studied. My husband asks me all of the time how I know something, and many times it was some basic thing I knew from HS; biology, anatomy, math, accounting, all sorts of stuff.

@EVERYBODY if I had to guess I think our public schools are more equal than different around the country. Do you think that is true?

Facade's avatar

I’d say they’re different. In my city district of 11 high schools, the numbers are all across the board as are the demographics. The $500,000 houses are about 5 miles away from the ratty apartment complexes. I really don’t think it’s even at all.

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade And, the 11 schools are very different from each other? Or, just the kids who go to them?

Facade's avatar

Great question! Let’s see…thinking back to visiting them… The one I went to was the newest. It was actually a technology academy as well. We had a ton of extremely bright students. Um, the one down the street was pretty old. One of our local newscasters went there. It’s also in a rough neighborhood and is known for being, well, rough. The others are fairly average with fairly average students, having some on both ends of the spectrum. I’m sure all of them have the technology they need. The success of the schools around here is greatly because of the teachers.

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade So, were the teachers better at the higher income area schools?

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

well I think we should reward them if they complete high school. Like for an example, the government could pay off tuition for college if someone completes high school with a certain GPA.

JLeslie's avatar

@teh_kvlt_liberal I think just give them money for completing HS, it is working very well supposedly in NYC. And, give the girls an extra grand for getting through without having a baby.

Facade's avatar

@JLeslie Oh no, I didn’t mean that. I meant that any excellence within these school is because of the teachers. Thankfully, the good ones are sprinkled throughout.

JLeslie's avatar

@Facade So I am assuming violence is not a big factor in the schools, whether it is in a wealthy neighborhood or poor? Can I ask what city you are in? Or, at minimum the state? I have this idea in my head that the south is bad when it comes to things like this, and the rest of the country is much better, but that is a huge overgeneralization from the bits of experience I have in various cities east of the Mississippi.

Facade's avatar

Virginia Beach, VA. Um, violence happens across the board, but mainly at the schools with poorer kids or kids in “gangs” I say “gangs” because this is Virginia Beach, not LA.

JLeslie's avatar

That area is not exactly the south with all of the military if I remember correctly. Here in TN the violence is ridiculous in the lower income areas. Two school shootings last year, and a crazy mother of a student who waved a gun around on a school bus. Other crap all of the time.

Facade's avatar

Oh no, none of that here. Just some simple fights and such.

rottenit's avatar

To offer up an answer more specific to the question, I think that the most successful approach would be to pull these kids out of there environment, its amazing what changes can occur when external influences are removed, I saw this as a youth leader we had some disruptive kids on a weekly basis but when they went on camps or retreats after a couple of days you could see the change in their behavior.

Downside is this is really expensive and I’m sure not very popular. ( The idea of taking the kids away from their homes into some kind of boarding school scenario.)

Judi's avatar

My sister was 7th Day Adventist and sent her kids away to boarding school. She is a great mom (and grandma now) but she credits boarding school with maintainig a healthy relationship with her kids.

bumwithablackberry's avatar

Nothing, what can you do, it’s inevitable, man I hate saying that, but isn’t it. I think it is really important to stay in school, I dropped out, big regret, especially since I only had a few months left. Maybe there could be a focus on the school’s with the greatest dropout rates. But it’s like this, I’m tired of seeing the good people punished, it’s wierd, some people make mistakes, I don’t want to call them bad, but then freedoms get taken away from everyone else in line. Hmm, did I make a valid point? So maybe, fuck those schools, and we try to make it better for the people who aren’t screwing up, wow, is that fascist?

LostInParadise's avatar

@JLeslie , But how much of what you know from high school that you actually use? What things did you learn that help you on the job or in other aspects of your day to day life? Were you taught how to apply for a job, cook a meal or fix an appliance? And how much understanding did you get about the world around us? How many plants can you recognize? Could you build an electric motor or a radio?

mattbrowne's avatar

Better parenting.

JLeslie's avatar

@LostInParadise My basic biology helped me when I was sick with an infection that could not be diagnosed by doctors. When my husband had a lot of pain on his right side, I knew it was likely his gall bladder. I went to the ER for very bad pain in my esophagus, the treated me like it could not be my “esophagus,” but it was. I know the difference between my stomach and my “tummy.” All this from HS Anatomy and Physiology. Algebra helped me when I worked in department store. I knew how to figure out how much something cost when all I saw was a total with the tax included and I did it for my accountant when I was figuring sales tax I had paid for my fed taxes. He would just estimate, because he didn’t know how to do the algebra, how to turn around the equation. I can figure in my head 30% off, because I know you can multiply by 70%, you don’t have to multiply 30% and then subtract—an extra step. I understand the basics of genes, and so with some of the new work being done in this realm it is not total greek to me. I was ablt to finr tune preparing an outline, and to organize essays, practice giving speeches, all in English classes in HS. I took accounting where I learned the basics about balance sheets and P & L statements, things like writing a check properly, and how to find a transposition adding mistake, that it is typically divisible by 9…all high school.

CMaz's avatar

daloon – I totally understand what you are saying. Makes good sense, and by now it would have made a difference. But it has not.
Life is about taking the good with the bad, our society wants to remove the notion of anything being bad.
Sounds great. It does.

“How can people learn without asking questions or making mistakes?”
So true!

“You tend to make a lot of bombastic statements, but I don’t recall you backing them up with evidence very often.”

My evidence is my life. Take it or leave it. Don’t need to post insight from wikipedia to make a point or to explain what I have experienced for it to be evidential.
And, it is our lives that are a reflection to how society runs. So we should, without bias, look at all possibilities. If you truly want a solution.

I do luv the word bombastic.

And, always respect your insight.

AnonymousWoman's avatar

This is where alternative schools come into the picture. Regular school is really NOT for everyone, myself included.

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