Monday, October 29, 2007

Dropout Factories

I found this report about high school dropouts in California this morning. As upset as people in the article seem, I think their numbers are low. I mean, I think more kids are dropping out than they say. I did a search to see if it was just my area and found that, true to my suspicions, the way that California calculates dropout rates may be wrong. Specifically, "We see, in far too many cases, that students who drop out are not being counted as dropouts." Isn't that the same problem these kids have had their whole lives? They don't count.

Anyway, I looked up our district, and fewer than half of our kids entering 9th grade graduate. That sounds kind of depressing, but don't worry, it gets worse! No one likes to admit it because it would mean that a whole lot of people aren't doing their job (I believe it's not legal to drop out of school until you're 16 in this state). However, many many kids drop out in between middle school and high school. Convenient for the officials, since dropout rates are usually calculated using the number of kids entering high school as a starting point. This way, the kids can drop out earlier and not even be noticed! I might be overly cynical, but it seems to me that most people would be happier if they weren't noticed... at least the people in power. Less guilt, less accountability. At least, that's been my experience while working with these kids.

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