Ask any parent of a teen to tell you special qualities of his teen. You will hear, perhaps after a few joking comments, unique attributes, future dreams, and pride. “My daughter is very inquisitive and good in science. I can see her being wonderful in the field of medical research.”
Align that pride and hope with a dose of reality: the graduation rate in our state. In March, the Office of Public Instruction (http://www.k12.wa.us) released the class of 2012 graduation data. If we take students who began in the fall of 2008, 77.2% graduated. If we weave in stragglers on the “five-year plan,” the rate is 78.9.
This data raises questions. So what happens to the hopes and futures of the 21% who did not graduate? What logic results in 13.6% as the report’s dropout rate for the Class of 2012? (100-79=21, right?) Is it okay that they end up with a GED? Or as dropouts? How does this foundation launch them into successful adulthood? How does it validate their unique interests and talents? How can each of us make a difference to decrease this appalling statistic?
Is our state making a priority of this urgent concern? Fractional progress won’t save the kids who are already defeated. We need to explore new ways to use technology and resources to serve all types of learners. We must hold the school district accountable for the success of the 21% dropping out and the countless others feeling lost in the system. Kids can’t wait. The time for educational innovation is NOW!