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Make it harder for students to drop out

Make it harder for students to drop out

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Surprised that 30 percent of American kids drop out of high school? Don’t forget that half of big city kids drop out. Half.

We make dropping out so easy. The only legal requirement is that a child has a 16th birthday. Then you walk out the door. Kids drop out in their mind and attitude around 14, float downstream a couple of years, ignoring teachers, skipping often until they hit 16.

Truth is a legal dropout age of 16 encourages kids to quit.

America’s education system is like a glass with holes in it. We are silly enough to think the answer is to pour more and better into the glass. More money, better programs. 

I don’t care how wonderful and innovative your new programs are, you can’t educate kids who aren’t in the building. Obama’s new dropout proposals sound good and mean well, but they would get much more results if the holes in the glass were sealed.

It’s not the complete answer, but what we really need is a system that clearly demonstrates to kids that there are certain things they must do and that if they don’t do these things they will no longer be legally allowed to leave early, but indeed will have to stay late. 

And to those who howl at such psychology, let me remind you the current dropout rate of 30 percent has been going on now for 110 years and no politician, educator, media or academic has ever done anything effective to lower it.

Dr. Jeffrey Jones, Normal

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