- Cullman, Alabama

February 27, 2013

EDITORIAL: The problem with dropouts

The Cullman Times

CULLMAN — The latest study on why high school dropouts are a problem focuses on lost taxpayer revenue.

Much of the report comes from Civic Enterprises, a public policy group. The reports notes that a 90 percent graduation rate, a goal set by former President George W. Bush, would send about $1.8 billion in lost revenue back to states.

But, as the report contends, many states are still struggling to reach 70 or 80 percent graduation rates.

Bush’s “No Child Left Behind,” a well-intended failure laced with unfunded federal mandates, is being scrapped. President Obama’s administration is trying a $15 million investment through the Department of Education and AmeriCorps to send help into 60 of the nation’s worst school systems.

While each effort has some merit, yielding a few good results here and there, the intent at the national level continues to focus on making college-ready scholars out of the vast majority of American students. Perhaps it is time to realize, finally, that attaining a traditional college degree is just not for everyone. If there is no support at home and little will among students to move in that direction, public education needs to focus more on training non-college-bound students to fill specific needs in the workforce.

At this point, state governments are overrun with demands from public education and swollen pension funds. Continuing to pour buckets of money into education is not going to change the flight from traditional learning by so many young Americans. Redirecting a portion of existing education funds into building technical and trade skills would be a tremendous move forward for public education.