Solving Dropout Problem Requires Diverse Approach

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As a parent and a grandparent, I guess that it is fair to say I have an opinion on education from pre-school through college. Two of my kids breezed through every level but one needed special help from elementary through high school and finished with a GED. Children vary in how they think, how they learn and how they cope. That diversity has to be addressed if schools are going to be successful in helping them complete their education. And, not all schools are equally prepared for that challenge.

H.R. 5467 is legislation which was introduced on May 28. The bill would authorize the Secretary of Education to provide grants to established, non-profit, tested and successful public high school turnaround organizations to provide services to schools and districts that are not eligible to receive ARRA Race to the TOP and Title I SIG funding.

According to the bill sponsor:

“Only 70 percent of United States students graduate on time with a regular diploma and about 1,200,000 students drop out regularly. Almost 50 percent of public high school students in the 50 largest cities of the United States fail to graduate. Only 50 percent of all Black students and 53 percent of Hispanic students graduate from high school. Males fare even worse, with only 43 percent of Black male students and 48 percent of Hispanic male students graduating. High school dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, join gangs, and use drugs. They are more than 8 times as likely to be in jail as a person with a diploma.”

One reform option, charter schools, have been a great solution for many, but critics say they cannot scale quickly enough to serve as many high school students who are currently at risk. What may be needed is an expansion of organizations that have the capacity to work nationally at the high school level in a manner that is cost-effective and accountable.

Schools need help facing the dropout challenge. They don’t need one size fits all mandates from the federal government. What the federal government can do is encourage partnerships that provide support to public high schools who are seeking to tackle this long identified but evasive threat.

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