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So I have to compress the proposal by about 25% this weekend, and… - The Mad Schemes of Dr. Tectonic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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[Apr. 1st, 2006|12:24 am]
So I have to compress the proposal by about 25% this weekend, and make a nice vector-graphics version of a diagram I originally drew by hand, but otherwise it's shaping up pretty nicely.

Of course this is the weekend of a bachelor party and a first birthday party. I think I'm going to take a vacation when this is all done.

My random gripe of the day: was listening to the radio on the way home and heard mention that there's something in the state legislature about increasing the number of years you have to stay in school, from 10 (starting at age 6) to 12 (starting at age 5). Now, I'm all for public education, and I don't really have any complaint about the measure itself... except that it's intended to solve the problem of Colorado's drop-out rate being too high.

So here's my complaint: does nobody ever even attempt to look at root causes? For God's sake, people, at least try to figure out what the underlying problem is and deal with it! Ask WHY, dammit! Figure out what causes kids to drop out of school and address that, because I would bet you a shiny nickel that the reason is not "well, there wasn't any law against it, so I figured why not..." Bah!

[User Picture]From: ciddyguy
2006-04-01 07:10 am (UTC)

The Bill

It does not make any sense either, that is stretching out the school years but you are right, we need to find out what is causing the drop out rate and fix that.

One thing I've often thought of, and this come from personal experience as a student (thankfully I didn't drop out, but had terrible grades though) is how things are taught and the teaching model that is still being used dates back to a time when teaching had to be efficient due to the mass influx of imigrants coming into this country back at the turn of the last century. The model is outdated, outmoded and really does not address individual needs of various types of students etc.

That's what needs to be looked at IMO.
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[User Picture]From: thedragonweaver
2006-04-01 07:23 am (UTC)
In California, there's a proposal to make preschool necessary. As one commenter on the proposal put it, "How 'bout we fix K-12 first?"

Personally, I'm with the crowd that thinks that some kids are not ready for preschool, or should only go a couple of days a week, the rest devoted to being kids.

You know that they are trying to have kids reading by the time they're out of kindergarten, right? And if you don't have basic sentence structure down by first grade, they consider you pretty much screwed?* Gah.

*Yes, I learned to read as a toddler. But I don't think that the teachers in this state do a good job in relation to reading.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2006-04-01 08:18 am (UTC)
Perhaps this proposal is intended to address problems with daycare, which is incredibly expensive, and pretty much necessary if both parents are to work.

I'm just guessing. I'm with you on some kids not being ready. I used to work at a preschool and the kids who seemed to benefit from it the most were the ones who came just a few times a week.
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[User Picture]From: zalena
2006-04-01 08:47 am (UTC)


I almost dropped out of school between my sophpmore/junior year. I dropped out of the advanced tracking I'd been in my entire life, started spending very little time at school, and ran with a very wild crowd.

I don't know what it was that convinced me I wanted back in, (actually it might have been a very messy break up, which resulted not only in the loss of my punk rock boyfriend, but my entire social scene) but it was very difficult to convince the administration and teachers to let me back into the AP courses. More than anything I fought their prejudice all the way through to graduation.

It also ruined my GPA. I was incredibly proud of the 3.5 I managed by graduation, due primarily to the extra weight from the AP courses.

As for why I wanted to leave: my parents got divorced when I was 15, and I was definitely acting out for attention. (I never got it, which is something I want to tell other kids who are acting out. "Save yourself! They are too wrapped up in their own problems to notice yours.") But I'd also always felt socially stigmatized for my intelligence and I wanted a break from that, too. I was into troubled boys who weren't in the classes I normally took. I also was extremely sensitive to being the token "disadvantaged" student in my usual advanced courses. I think more than anything, my impulse to drop out was a both a result of teen nihilism and a failed attempt normalize.

A lot of kids might be better off testing out of high school and getting on with their lives. I considered it myself, but ultimately decided it would be more normalizing to participate and stay. Plus, I got involved in forensics, which saved my life. It gave me an environment in which to compete, excel, and have my excellence be regarded as an asset rather than something weird. It made me something of an academic hero, and it connected me to other smart kids from other schools. (This is one of the ways in which vyrin and I became friends.)

However, I think the reason other kids drop out aren't necessarily the same. Mental health plays a role, as does not fitting into the social scene. Learning disabilities, confidence, family problems, all play in. I know a lot of kids who leave school to work to help support families. And if you get pregnant, forget it, the odds of graduating are statiscally slim.

I was once told that public schools were designed for the industrial age, to turn out good factory workers. I don't know if this is true, but I certainly think that the means and methods are no longer turning out the best persons adapted to our current society.

This leads to the question, "What ARE schools for, and what would be a good adaptation to our current/future society?"

I would start with civics. A basic understanding of representative democracy, and how to participate, is something I see as desirable.

A basic background of technical knowledge is good, too.

I also believe that a high school education SHOULD be good enough to get you into college. I heard of a school in TX whose graduation requirement is acceptance into at least a local community college. Not only has it reduced their drop out rate, it has also made the percentage of kids who go to college skyrocket.

Have a great weekend!
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[User Picture]From: madbodger
2006-04-01 09:07 am (UTC)
graphviz is da bomb for making good-looking diagrams of certain types.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2006-04-01 09:24 am (UTC)
The problem with addressing root causes in cases like this is you often conclude that you need to provide support and reward incremental improvements for people who are, in the larger picture, "behaving badly." And this doesn't play well to the larger community, who generally feel that bad behavior should be either punished or prevented by force. So addressing root causes turns out to be political suicide if you do it publically.
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[User Picture]From: ocschwar
2006-04-01 02:41 pm (UTC)
If you let Colorado pols try to deal with underlying causes for high school drop out rates, they'll start talking about Colombine, and if you think this law is crazy...
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[User Picture]From: melted_snowball
2006-04-03 02:04 am (UTC)
I think I can trump: in the fall, I was reading that paper from the National Academies about how to improve the quality of science in the US, and the piece of the report that I made the most fun of was a bit that said that since people who take AP exams do more science, we should have more AP classes. Um, what was that statistical principle again?

Turns out that that is the single action item in the report that is most likely to be enacted.
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