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Educational Catastrophe

Nationwide, nearly one in three U.S. high school students fails to graduate with a diploma. In total, approximately 1.2 million students drop out each year – averaging 7,000 every school day or one every 26 seconds. Among minority students, the problem is even more severe with nearly 50 percent of African-American and Hispanic students not completing high school on time.  http://www.americaspromise.org

Students blame teachers, teachers blame parents, parents blame politicians, politicians blame the “system”. The system blames programs that are boring, disengaged from reality, and irrelevant to student needs. We see classrooms in chaos, teachers with tenure who do not teach, students with no regard for authority, administrators who do not administrate, and parents who are uninvolved in the process of their children’s educational process, or maybe, completely disinterested in the success of their children.

When it comes down to the absolute level of drop out accountability, it begins with the parents who are not parenting their children from birth to young adulthood. It is the parents who set standards for their children to follow. It is the parents who prove to their children the importance of achieving an education. It is the parents who teach respect for authority and peers. The non-parenting culture has left us with a legacy of a huge wandering crowd of children with no purpose other than the moment, which usually leaves them feeling empty or abandoned.

Cities in Crisis 2009: Closing the Graduation Gap, is a publication by the EPE (Editorial Projects in Education). This study looked at the economic and employment landscape for those with varied educational levels. It revealed that those who drop out of high school are less likely to be steadily employed, and earn less income when they are employed, compared with those who graduate from high school. Approximately one-third (37 percent) of high school dropouts nationwide are steadily employed and are more than twice as likely to live in poverty.

The report revealed that high school dropouts account for 13 percent of the adult population, but earn less than six percent of all dollars earned in the U.S. In the 50 largest cities, the median income for high school dropouts is $14,000, significantly lower than the median income of $24,000 for high school graduates and $48,000 for college graduates. Nationally, high school dropouts were also the only group of workers who saw income levels decline over the last 30 years.

I was reading an article yesterday about school exit tests and how states are easing standards because the tests are proving to be tough for their students to pass. This New York Times article, written by Ian Urbina, states, “The real pattern in states has been that the standards are lowered so much that the exams end up not benefiting students who pass them while still hurting the students who fail them. The exams are just challenging enough to reduce the graduation rate, but not challenging enough to have measurable consequences for how much students learn or for how prepared they are for life after high school”, says John Robert Warren, an expert on exit exams and a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota.

I spoke to a woman in my gym who tutors students in math. She told me, “Why are we teaching algebra or geometry to students who will not be going to college? We should be teaching them math that meets their needs, “functional math”. We need to teach our children, who are not college bound, how to open a checking account, balance a check book, make change, develop budgets, and the many other things that are required for survival.” She is wasting her time tutoring high school students in a math they will never use in their real life.

We are dumbing down our children as China and India are gearing up their educational system and parenting their children to be the best. They will take over what we can no longer do. Our children will be the worker bees for those who will be the bosses. These carefully parented children in these emerging economies are succeeding because they have strong family relationships based in respect and honor.

I have added the links to the NY Times article and an editorial by Bob Herbert.



“Children enter school as question marks and leave as periods”

Neil Postman, Educator

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