Saturday, April 23, 2011

I’m no better than a high school drop out

About 1/3 of the 95% of children who attend school (5% and growing are engaging in home education) drop out in America.  In large cities like those I grew up in: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and New York the drop out rate is about 50%.  Often teachers blame parents and parents blame teachers and that just pisses me off because it doesn’t deal with the real issue which is that public schools are just not designed to meet the needs of students.  You often find that those who graduated put themselves on a pedestal.  If they could do it, anyone can.  I am not on a pedestal.  I thought about dropping out often.  I graduated from high school and then college pissed off when I became old enough to realize it was a big waste of my time.  

During all my days in secondary school I wondered what the heck I was doing.  The classes were boring.  The teachers were boring. The kids weren’t nice to each other.  I thought, "people tell us these are the best years of our lives." I thought they were extremely boring and oppressive.  I was literally nearly bored to death and I did indeed think of suicide during those years wondering...”Wait. This is the best? Is that all there is???”

Sure, I finished school. Most of my friends did not. However, just because my body finished school does not mean my mind hadn’t dropped out. Few even knew I was even there.  I didn't attend any of those things people attend like prom or homecoming. One of the great things about the 80s was erasable ink.  I found (maybe stole) a hall pass.  I'd go around to classes helping others escape, delivering the pass with their name to get out of class.  The reality is in high school it was the drop outs that I had more in common with and I spent most of my time.

Here are the things I have in common with drop outs.  
81% wanted better teachers  
81% said there should be more opportunities for “real-world” learning so that students can see the connection
75 % wanted smaller classes with more individualized instruction  
70% simply lack interest in gaining an education most often because the generic course curriculum offered to public high school students, whereby a number of students simply become bored.
70% said the teachers and content did not motivate or inspired them to work
50% said more should be done to help students who had difficulty learning.
50% of students said they dropped out because they were bored and disengaged from high school.
50% of students dropped out because they said classes weren’t interesting.
45% said their elementary schools didn’t adequately prepare them  

I was lucky not to have these things in common
(These factors are often not in the control of students.)

33% said they had to get a job and make money. (I was fortunate to only need a part-time job in high school.)
25% said they became a parent (I was “lucky” not to be one. My best friends were pregnant in high school.)
24% said they had to care for a family member. (I had a sick family member, but that didn’t take me from school.)

If you want to read some reports on drop outs yourself visit these links
http://www.civicenterprises.net/pdfs/thesilentepidemic3-06.pdf
http://www.cec.sped.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&TEMPLATE=/CM/ContentDisplay.cfm&CONTENTID=9279
http://www.all4ed.org/files/GraduationRates_FactSheet.pdf
http://www.solutionsforamerica.org/healthyfam/dropout_prevention.html
http://www.womensforum.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3082:why-teens-drop-out-of-high-school&catid=14:education&Itemid=44


There’s a lot we can do to combat this problem.  This is one purpose of The Innovative Educator. 
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