Saturday, April 4, 2009

Proposal for a Better School System(?)

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that California has the highest high school drop out rate in the nation, 24%. That is astonishing!

Some argue that this high rate is caused by an under-emphasis in curricula upon vocational education and an over-emphasis upon college-prep. That seems reasonable. After all, many students know that they will not go to college, and thus the incentive to remain in high school is reduced.

Perhaps the state legislature should pass a law akin to the following: High schools should use test scores and class rank to anticipate the likelihood that a student will attend college. If the student's score meets certain benchmarks, then the student is placed on a "college track," on which the student will be enrolled in college-prep courses. If, however, the student places below the benchmarks, the student will be enrolled in vocation-oriented classes, similar to a community college. One caveat: if the student or the student's parents desire that the student be placed on the college track, the student should be so placed, irrespective of class rank and test scores.

My suggestion does, however, have a serious flaw: It surrenders the goal of sending every child in this nation to college. Perhaps this flaw is fatal to my proposal? The decision is one between realism and idealism.

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