Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Meaningful Education Reform For Kentucky

We really need to examine the price we pay in our schools when we elevate "access" or "participation" above all else. Not that many of us couldn't use a helping hand from time to time, but making the helping hand our top priority shouldn't be allowed to cripple our ability to serve those who are more likely to move on with a little help.

This year already, we passed a stupid bill that seeks to keep high school dropouts in the classroom. It won't work, but the time we spent on this could have gone to something productive.

Here's an idea: rather than packing high school classrooms with kids who don't want to be there and college freshman classes with students who aren't prepared for higher education, let's allow the drop-outs to drop out and keep 12th graders who need remediation in their seats for 13th grade in their same high school.

This would benefit us in several ways. Shame is a fabulous motivator for teenagers. An underachieving would-be college freshman will move heaven and earth to avoid sitting in high school for one more year. This will alleviate our college remediation problem in one way or the other. And kids who really need the help and want to graduate can have more time to get that help. If what we really want is to improve educational achievement, let's shift some of our focus from flogging drop-outs and toward better guiding students who are showing some interest.