September 9, 2007
My essay is in response to: “Dropping out too young” by David Nichols, Ed. D., his email address is DrChief1@aol.com.
Dr. Nichols’ Op-ed appeared in the Sunday, September 9, 2007, edition of the Mobile Press-Register. His commentary can be read in its entirety by clicking on the following link: http://www.al.com/opinion/press-register/index.ssf?/base/opinion/1189330508234080.xml&coll=3
This morning, I read with great interest Dr. David Nichols’ commentary on the problem of high school students dropping out early and his proposed solution to raise the required attendance age. The focus of this educator’s piece was on pointing out the problem child in his mind — the dropouts. Never once did he acknowledge the problem of poorly run schools and systems within the state of Alabama, that, as a whole, often score in the bottom ten percent of the United States or of boring mandatory curriculums or of the teachers’ unions’ left-brained, show your work mentality, in general.
For several generations now, the primary focus of America’s education system has been to supply cheap labor to Corporate America for growing their businesses and our economy and not on helping children develop their individual talents. Rather than create well balanced, critical thinkers and self-governing young adults, thus free citizens, we produce robots ready to fill a mindless slot on a production line or a cubicle inside the front office.
It has been a recipe for disaster as Americans spend a lifetime of pushing their square pegs into tight round holes. Our insecure society has paid a high price for the wave after wave of the newly addicted graduates seeking relief from feeling lost in their career, in their life, under great social pressures to appear having it all together and happy.
Rather than having a choice in the subjects that students study or don’t, they are indoctrinated from day one to a plethora of topics of little or no interest, day in and day out, for eight or nine years before ever reaching high school. If their experience was anything like mine in elementary school, where I struggled with a learning disability resulting in me repeating the fifth grade, I am not surprised at all by their decision to take the first opportunity to exit from school.
Elementary school is a minefield for children and can make a ten-year-old “C, D and F” student feel dumb and like a failure while the “A” student feels like a genius. The truth is neither student is right. School officials need to acknowledge this powerful force playing inside classrooms and its fallout.
The interest of educating or cultivating children has become secondary to test scores, to graduation rates, sending them off to college, to work on the factory floor or at the local construction site.
High school students dropping out of school is not the problem. It is really a barometer for measuring the performance of schools and school systems. Going to work becomes an appropriate alternative for a teenager and not a poor decision when schools continue to fail them. It finally gives him or her control over their life to meet their needs that school no longer meets or never once met.
The real burden is on the schools to deliver a better service to their customers – the individual student and to our society, as a whole. This is something that passing more legislation hasn’t and won’t ever accomplish.
Copyright © 20007, 2010. All Rights Reserved. “Drop Out!” by Ted Burnett.
I am available for speaking, consulting and political advising. My other essays can be viewed at my blog – http://www.toxicnation.blogspot.com/. I can be contacted via email at – firstname.lastname@example.org. My biography can be viewed at http://www.tedburnettresume.blogspot.com.