Dropout Nation

This documentary was on last night and it was...I want to say sad, but there were bright spots as well, so lets go with, it was moving.  It follows the administrators and a few students from Sharpstown High School in Houston, TX in their struggle to reduce student dropout. 

I believe you can go watch it here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/dropout-nation/

Thought provoking points:

Expectations.  A dean talked about the ridiculously high expectations for administrators to keep kids in school, while the rest of society washes their hands of the issue because they could not do the job themselves.  I am sure I would have an extremely hard time not taking that job personally, and really do not know how some teachers keep doing it day in and day out. 

Home life.  One of the biggest issues causing high risk for dropout is a student's experiences outside of the school.  They could be dealing with no parents, deadbeat parents, no place to stay, no food, or they could be working crazy hours to support family.  The list goes on and on in more ways than I can imagine.  How in the world is a kid supposed to focus on Spanish lessons or Algebra when they haven't eaten or slept? When they are just worrying about where to go after school?  

When to give up.  How many chances is too many for a high school student?  What should they be accountable for?  When/how can you teach encourage positive behavior?  This is a newer subject to me because I do not work in education, but the challenges are fascinating none the less. 

Dropout rate.  This was extremely interesting, but not that surprising.  All high schools in Houston are required to label each student that withdraws from their school and categorize it.  This could be because family moved, or they switched to a private school, died, or dropped out, etc.  It is very important for schools to maintain a low "dropout" rate for continued funding.  I cannot explain this very well, so you will just have to watch to see how Sharpstown deals with this...
This Frontline was yet another reminder of how lucky I am in both family and high school experiences.  The option to fail was never even a thought in my head during high school because I never had to think about food, safety or $.  I certainly could have slacked off more and done less with my life, but at the time dropping out literally never crossed my mind. 

Thank you Mom & Dad & Teachers!    


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