Despite more than two decades of reform initiatives, we still do not know how to provide effective schools for millions of poor and disadvantaged students. The increasing number of high school dropouts is a tragic portrait of our school system. It really is extraordinary that after all these years, educationists have still failed to devise what steps should be taken to turn the tide of the current crisis of education. Surely, it is necessary an effort to better understand the lives and circumstances of students who drop out high school. Why do young people drop out in such large numbers? To approach the problem, I think we should ask ourselves where the story really starts.
Today, the moment a child begins school, he enters a world that lacks moral leadership. The system lowers the standards of teaching, for it deprives the teacher of all freedom. The lack of discipline and social interaction in team sports and other activities indicate where the problem begins. Part of this may have been the result of the adoption of progressive educational theories. The system doesn’t emphasize the importance of learning, of developing a person’s true ability and aptitude, of developing empathy in students and the respect for the basic human values.
Public school’s requirements for graduating are easy. Students do little or no homework each week. Students don’t work harder, because of the lack of challenge. Surely, if schools do not provide the necessary support for students and do not demand more of them, this will increase their risk of dropping out. The low expectations for the students or for the teachers are in stark contrast to high expectations they have in private schools. The consequences are tragic. Our communities also suffer due to the loss of productive workers and the higher costs associated with health care and social services.
Unfortunately, educators, policymakers and leaders do not speak the same language. A good education must be a priority in our society. We need to invest our time in public forums in schools and communities in which the problem is severe for a better understanding of the problem and so common solutions could be undertaken. In all cases, the voices of students who dropped out of high school should be heard. What are the essential components of high school reforms? Acknowledging the efforts that exist, it is necessary to design a comprehensive approach that address the illiteracy and focus on reading readiness in our poor communities.