Category: This is Dropout Nation

The Morning Read

What’s happening inside — and outside — the dropout nation: No matter where you sit, America’s public education system is a mess: Cynthia Brown of the Center for American Progress…

Dropout activist Norman Toney. Courtesy of Imageviewer

Dropout activist Norman Toney. Courtesy of Imageviewer

What’s happening inside — and outside — the dropout nation:

    1. No matter where you sit, America’s public education system is a mess: Cynthia Brown of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and Arthur Rothkopf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have almost nothing in common. Except each one thinks the nation’s education system sorely needs an overhaul.
    2. 26.4 percent. Or suspending towards academic failure: With just 32 percent of the black males in the original Class of 2006 graduating from school (and a just-as-abysmal 46 percent graduation rate for the white males in that class) Milwaukee’s public school system is one of the worst place for young black men — or anyone — to get an education. One possible reason why? As reported today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the Council of Great City Schools chastises the district for overuse of suspensions and other harsh forms of school discipline that often contribute to the dropout crisis. More than a quarter of all students in the district are suspended at least once during the 2007-08 school year, according to the report.
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      Who is Dropout Nation: Black Males and Academic Failure

      One could write 600 words to describe how the dropout crisis adversely affects young black males. But this map of the Dropout Nation, released last week by the Schott Foundation…

      One could write 600 words to describe how the dropout crisis adversely affects young black males. But this map of the Dropout Nation, released last week by the Schott Foundation for Public Education as part of its annual report on low dropout rates, says far more than words ever can. Click on the map, read it and weep.

      Schott Foundation's 50-state map

      Schott Foundation's 50-state map

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      The Morning Read

      What’s happening inside — and outside — the dropout nation: When civil rights groups get it wrong on education: Is access to a high-quality education a civil right? Depends on…

      What’s happening inside — and outside — the dropout nation:

      Image courtesy of C'Ville Weekly

      Image courtesy of C'Ville Weekly

        1. When civil rights groups get it wrong on education: Is access to a high-quality education a civil right? Depends on where you sit ideologically (personally, this libertarian thinks it isn’t necessarily so, but a public education system being funded with tax dollars should actually do the job and educate all students). But civil rights groups such as La Raza and the NAACP have long ago began bucking their ties to teachers’ unions and supporting the No Child Left Behind Act. Now, according to the New York Times, other groups are also doing the same, this time fighting with the NEA and AFT over a congressional bill aimed at weakening an accountability provision in the law.
        2. Diane Ravitch and James Heckmann should know better: Essentially, that’s what Ken DeRosa concludes in his latest sharp criticism of the Broader, Bolder Coalition, the strange bedfellows group of conservative and left-leaning education policy stars demanding that the the kind of standards-and-accountability embedded in the No Child Left Behind Act ought to be abandoned because it blames schools for academic failure. This isn’t the first time he has claimed that the group ignores data that may not support their position.
        3. Are teachers’ unions anti-teacher?: Larry Sands of the California Teachers Empowerment Network offers his own thoughts.
        4. Meanwhile in my birth-state: New York is once again reeling from unrestrained spending and prospects of a recession, notes the Economist. The chances for comprehensive education reform in the state — whose legislature and new governor overturned a successful effort to reform how new teachers attain tenure — is about as likely as the city handing over Liberty Island to New Jersey.
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          Why Dropout Nation?

          Ninety percent of America’s high school students graduate. Or so education officials in Indiana and the rest of the nation touted in graduation rates submitted to the public and the…

          DropoutsNinety percent of America’s high school students graduate. Or so education officials in Indiana and the rest of the nation touted in graduation rates submitted to the public and the federal government.

          Those statistics, however, weren’t even close to reality. They, instead, hid a dropout crisis draining the nation’economy and more importantly, condemning generations to the underclass.

          One out of every four high school students in Indiana drop out by their senior year; 345,000 young Hoosier likely dropped out between 1986 and 2006. IPS, located in that state’s largest city, is home to some of the nation’s worst ‘dropout factories’ with four out of every ten students dropping out; four of out of every five young Black and White males drop out by senior year, according to the Schott Foundation for Public Education, the worst dropout rate for males in both races in the nation.

          One out of every three students in attending high schools in Texas and North Carolina will eventually drop out. Three out of every ten California high school students are dropping out of school. One of every two students in the Los Angeles Unified, the nation’s second-largest school district, never finish school, according to Education Week; this is contrary to the district’s reported dropout rate of 25 percent

          One out of every four American high school freshmen — 849,000 young Americans — eventually drops out. They are condemned to poverty and welfare, unable to succeed in a high-tech economy in which even auto mechanics and welders are also knowledge workers. Many of them, especially Black men, will fill America’s prisons and jails as they turn to crime in order to survive. Their children children never learn the middle class skills needed to succeed.

          This dropout crisis is at the root of the urban decay in so many of America’s cities and rural areas. It’s a brain drain that taxes the nation’s competitiveness in the global economy. Yet for years, officially-reported numbers didn’t reflect the reality and in many cases, still doesn’t. This lack of honest accounting, both on graduation rates and other educational statistics, has, until recently, encouraged inaction on stemming dropouts.

          The passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, which makes graduation rates as important as test scores in measuring middle and high school performance, didn’t stopped states from misrepresenting those numbers. But the law is spurring a new generation of education reformers, both conservative and left-leaning, to finally hold states and schools accountable, forcing them to deal with the underlying factors behind both the faulty numbers and the dropout crisis itself.

          Dropout Nation, which originates from the series of editorials I wrote and co-authored for the Indianapolis Star since 2005, will focus on this crisis, how the nation got here and why fixing it remains a challenge. This includes features on new research and shedding light on the flaws in the arguments of those who contend that a dropout crisis isn’t so.

          More importantly, it will detail the human toll of this crisis and how a group of reformers — from researchers such as Robert Balfanz and Jay Greene, to grass-roots activists such as Phillip Jackson of the Black Star Project — are forcing school officials to finally admit that their traditional methods of educating students is a failure.

          Most of all, it is about the lives who are struggling to live, make a living, even go back to school. They are the every reason why solving the dropout crisis is the most important task we must take up this century. Education equals better jobs, healthier living and ultimately, a better life.

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