It is time to break the news. Not all high school kids are going to Harvard. Many wont make it past the 9th grade. They quit. The options are few for those kids, the chances of a meaningful life decreases enormously. So what are we doing about it? Nothing. I am aware of ” special programs” and alternative schools, those are not the answer but simply a band aide for those who simply cannot perform certain functions required to graduate. Many hit the streets looking for a life out there, and become less than model citizens. Perhaps it is time to quit trying to push a square peg through a circular hole, and deal with this. I submit that at least 10-15% of all high school students drop out, and the link I supplied will support that.
Has it occurred to anyone that these same kids who drop out because they are not able to grasp Algebra, may be gifted in other areas such as trades, arts and many other career options? Most will never realize their gift or skills, because the emphasis is on what they cannot do, not what they can do. We need more school to work initiatives and options for those at risk for dropping out. I see them pop up every once in a while, but it seems this is a silent topic, with few alternatives for teens at risk. Every school should have an option for switching gears from traditional curriculum, to a trade curriculum, that will graduate them prepared to work.
Opponents contest that all kids need the basic curriculum to ” get by ” in life. Really? What a joke. Lets start placing teens in areas of study that they are actually capable of accomplishing and quit this cookie cutter education plan. It is NOT working. Since I have been typing this post, 120 teenagers are now on the streets. They cannot get into trade schools without a G.E.D and obviously cannot meet the current requirements to graduate. This leaves grim options and futures for those kids.
I have worked with teens who could do the body work on my car on an expert level, but since they cannot understand and explain what an algebraic equation is, they are forced into the abyss of the streets and crime to survive. It is time to get real, and get these kids attached to the skills they are able to perform, and make a living at. Who ever uses Algebra anyway? Nobody I know. This is clearly a problem that only being addressed by “tweaking” standards or ” sliding” teens through the system without any skills. My take after 20+ years working with these populations, is that we need to un-bury our heads on this and set teens up for success. Might even empty some jail cells and save millions of taxpayer dollars, but then someone would have to do the math on that! Nobody likes math…