Assisted Suicide of a Generation
Marc Aronson says that America’s dropout epidemic for children of color is the "assisted suicide of a generation," but educators can not discuss it candidly.
Five KIPP schools in the San Francisco Bay had an attrition rate of 60% between 5th and 8th grade, giving ammunition to KIPP's detractors. Conversely, if teachers would reinvent high school during their spare time, then we could re-engage alienated teens. And so goes the blame game.
So, why not focus on highly mobile and excessively absent students? After all, there must be a rational limit to the scorn we can heap on educators for their inability to help children who are not in school. It is manifestly impossible for teachers, who already have their hands full, to reach out and rescue many of those children who miss school too much. New York City has 392 people to monitor 200,000 students who are chronically absent, but the district adopted the predictable response - blame the principals.
When 20% of a city's elementary students are absent for more than a month, is it any suprise when that number grows to 40% in high school? Given its seven billion dollars of new money, why didn't the New York City schools invest in their most vulnerable students? I blame ideological conflict and political correctness. Who wants to address the embarrassing question of how schools can graduate more students than the number of students who actually attend class?
Afterthought. In my first draft, I closed with a verbal zinger, thus perpetuating the blame game that I've been decrying. But we lost another student this week to gun violence. He was the kid who inspired the post, "The Big Sort." The stakes are too high for educators to continue their ideological battles. New teachers used to be taught, "You are not the problem. I am not the problem. The Problem is the Problem." If we can't even open our eyes and seek "win win" solutions for chronically absent and mobile students, we really need some soul searching. - John Thompson