Low Graduation Rates in US Cities
Tuesday, Apr. 01, 2008 By AP/KEN THOMAS
Buzz (WASHINGTON) — Seventeen of the nation's 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50 percent, with the lowest graduation rates reported in Detroit, Indianapolis and Cleveland, according to a report released Tuesday.
The report, issued by America's Promise Alliance, found that about half of the students served by public school systems in the nation's largest cities receive diplomas. Students in suburban and rural public high schools were more likely to graduate than their counterparts in urban public high schools, the researchers said.
Nationally, about 70 percent of U.S. students graduate on time with a regular diploma and about 1.2 million students drop out annually.
"When more than 1 million students a year drop out of high school, it's more than a problem, it's a catastrophe," said former Secretary of State Colin Powell, founding chair of the alliance.
The report found troubling data on the prospects of urban public high school students getting to college. In Detroit's public schools, 24.9 percent of the students graduated from high school, while 30.5 percent graduated in Indianapolis Public Schools and 34.1 percent received diplomas in the Cleveland Municipal City School District.
So? What should we do? I say, we stop spending so much in the way of resources on forcing kids to attend school. Draconian attendance policies, truancy agents, cops patroling the streets looking for abscent children - it all detracts from the bottom line. We should be spending this money on engaging those who give a shit. Quality, not quantity.
We should also be moving into a tiered system as early as elementary school, much like the honors, regular and special ed tracks in most high schools. We should test all kids going into elementary school and place them based on the results. More accurate training for teachers, more accurate learning for kids. Transition between tracks should be fluid for kids on lower tiers capable of moving up or vice-versa. Teachers will no longer be forced to cater to the lowest common denominator, or leave more average kids out of the loop by focusing on brighter students.
If we quit trying to force education down the throats of the unwilling and spend those resources more wisely, maybe there would be fewer of the unwilling who tend to drop out because they are bored or disillusioned.