Saturday, September 13, 2008

Public High School Drop out Crisis in America

In spite of Bush Slogan "No Child Left Behind", each year about one-third of public high school students fail to graduate from high school. Eight is enough, under 8-years of George W. Bush, we have been inundated with a mantra of sound bites and slogans but nothing concrete to address the public high school drop out rate.

While Republican, Patrick J. Buchanan is busy writing A Brief for Whitey on his favorite anti-Obama website, we have 7,000 public high school students dropping out of school each day. This alarming statistic is routed in the many socio-economic evils in the communities that are most impacted i.e. mainly poor families, so-called "Walmart Moms" and their kids.

A list of the cities across America that have the highest drop out rates was published without drawing parallels to statistics that also list the highest murder rates, single parent rates, unemployment rates and rate of students that receive free and reduced lunches. An excellent examination of the problem is provided by Maggie Monrad, National High School Center.

America's public education is in crisis and we will fail to hold our position among the super powers, if we allow this downward spiral to continue. America ranks 17th in high school graduation rates and 14th in college graduation rates amongst developed nations. The fastest growing jobs in the 21st century economy require some measure of post-secondary education.

The Bush-McCain-Palin administration believes that "greater accountability" in these schools with high drop out rates will address the problems. They fail to realize that the long-term solution lies in the answer as to why these schools exist. There is no band-aid solution - if the community is broken, this must spill over to the schools in communities.

In many cases, where there have been an improvement in low performing schools, it was accomplished by the use of "community organizers" - groups of teachers, parents and members of the communities working together. No real impact has been achieved without examining the social influences in a school's success.

It is imperative to oppose government vouchers and tax credits that facilitate sending kids to private schools because this would undermine any efforts to improve upon the public school system. In order to provide poor folks' children with an adequate education, the integrity and survival of the public institution is critical.

As we move to an increasingly global economy, higher levels of education and knowledge of a foreign language are crucial qualifications not only to the individual's own but his nation's ability to compete and thrive.

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