Yesterday, we ran Jim Wilcox’s take on the high school drop out age. We asked what you, our readers thought, something we plan on doing more. I was curious if I was alone in my thinking on the issue. Surprisingly, I wasn’t.
Critics might say that raising the age requirement would mean putting off the inevitable for another year, at the expense of the state.
But let’s face it…this would at least give educators more time to reach these students, which would save the state much more money in the long run, as dropouts are not adding to our local economy’s productivity and taxes, and will cost taxpayers for their healthcare, welfare, or the cost of keeping them in jail.
This step would give potential dropouts another year to think about it, and to mature before they make a decision that affects the rest of their life.
On the surface, it makes sense. However, there are other factors at play here that I don’t feel Mr. Wilcox is taking into account.
First, these kids aren’t interested in education. Either they’re just not equipped for traditional education (which isn’t as unusual as many people think), or they just don’t care. Either way, keeping them in school for a year forces them to draw on resources that could instead be focused on kids who actually want to learn.
Now, I agree with Jim on how important education is. I personally believe that it’s the silver bullet to solving most of Albany’s problems. The first step is to address high school drop out rates. However, I disagree about using the law to try and force the unwilling to do things. There are far to many people who will simply ride their time until drop out and nothing will change.
Instead, we need to figure out why these kids are dropping out. We need to know what the problem is, and begin to address those problems. We need to focus on the underlying causes, not throw a band-aid on the situation. Once we do that, we will see the the drop out rates drop, and it will because kids are wanting to learn.
I believe most teachers will agree that a student who wants to learn is always preferable to one who’s there only because it’s illegal for him to be anywhere else. They don’t distract other students, they put forth a little something called effort, and the entire environment of the school shifts.
Force a kid to stay, and he’ll not only stop learning, he’ll go out of his way to keep other kids from learning too. It is, unfortunately, the natural order of things.