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Phil Smith


While agreeing with most of your post the thing I find most damaging about all of this is once again we are setting up barrier instead of creating on ramps to success. I know in my school I have to literally fight, scratch and claw to keep kids from being discouraged, labeled, and defeated. Will it make us all better educators to be working with a common metric? Uhh, sure until some unscrupulous individuals learn how to manipulate it. What will happens to a district's incentive to work with teen mothers who may take five years or my ELL kids who often stay beyond the norm? One of the best moments in my year was when a young mother came back to show me her brand new diploma. She is 25 but she never stopped craving the certification of what she new to be true about herself as a learner and a person. With these proposals she just becomes a drop-out on my scorecard. Bottom line for me== I welcome the accountability but make me accountable not just for the four years but also for my kids future and give me the credit when I succeed. Anything less fails to do me and my kids justice.


Without getting too arbitrarily constraining, why not have a stop-out option that requires the student return to school within a given period? It allows for life situations, but it does not leave a student feeling trapped in the dead-end status of drop-out. What could be stupid about that?

Joseph Mehsling

I think the problem I have with your argument is based on the real world problem that many high schools require 22-25 credits to graduate. However, if a student attends full-time they could earn 28-32 credits! The buffer for mistakes are in place. However, we do know that if given enough time and opportunities most students can learn the required standards. The biggest problem with standards-based education is that the philosphy does not match out factory model of public education.


Fred Deutsch

Thank you for responding in a positive way to my comments. My choice of words could have . . . should have been better.

Remember, critics are people that care enough to make you better.


Randy Rodgers

Good stuff, Greg. Until I spent time working in an alternative campus, I really didn't appreciate what the kids were like or what they were going through. I found that they were driven to succeed, very busy, and harder working than many other peers of the same age or grade level. I heard stories of family tragedy, teenage parenthood, economic hardship, illness, and more. The best thing was, I saw kids who sincerely cared about graduating, be it at 18, 19, or 20 years old.

To see this bunch of kids overcome adversity and reach such a goal, then label them "dropouts" is ridiculous. Time constraints are just that--constraints. While they can motivate some to meet deadlines and finish required work, they also impose limits and facilitate the elimination of those who are more challenging to the system, via an easy way out for those in charge. Think outside the box a little. Why is the school day from 8-3:30? Why are class periods usually from 45 minutes to 1 hour? Why do we expect the masses, who all learn in their own unique ways and at their own paces (when not forced into the box) to be able to complete their academic careers on identical schedules? It ignores completely what is known about child development. Could it be that it is about money and convenience?


Greg, I appreciate both posts. I think your ideas have been tossed around for a long time and, as you say, in the age of asynchronous, lifelong, self-directed learning, they need to be talked about more.

I remember reading long ago, don't remember who (I'll let you know when I remember), about the idea that you give everybody a life-long voucher for so many years of education, and let them cash it in whenever they wanted. Of course, this would only work if people wanted to learn, and if schools offered what people want. Dangerous ideas.

Rebecca Foster

I'm not usually one to post comments on blogs-- normally I'm just a silent lurker, but after reading your posts, I really wanted to add my thoughts.

First, I was taught a long time ago that there is no such thing as a stupid idea, and I believe that someone who is quick to label one as such is not only limiting the originator of the idea, but also him or herself. When we shut down and dismiss a viewpoint contrary to our own as stupid, we miss out on the opportunity for interesting, thoughtful, and often enlightening conversation.

Second, I just recently finished school, so I cannot say that I have had a lot of experience, but I have been blessed with a variety of viewpoints in the past few years, as a student and teacher in a normal school setting, and as a teacher in an alternative school setting. What I have found is that students are all individuals coming from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. Some come from less than desirable home situations, some struggle with learning disabilities, some just process differently. If we have such a wide variety of students in the school system, why do we expect them all to be able to finish the required amount of work in four years? Instead of labeling students and punishing them (along with their teachers) for not being able to finish by the "proper deadline," we should be encouraging them. What would we rather have... a student who is rushed to finish in, as you say, an arbitrary amount of time, with very little real knowledge to show for it, or a student who takes a little longer, but has a better understanding of the material? In the long run, who do you think is going to be a better, more productive member of society? Isn't that what education is supposed to be about?

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