Monday, November 29, 2010
Sunday night while poking around on the internet, I found gold.
Okay, maybe not gold – but it sure did feel like it once I finished reading the article. It was one of the rare times that I didn’t feel like I had lost three minutes of my life reading something tampered with PR quotes and useless jargon.
The article – published in Tupelo’s Daily Journal – talked about seven Mississippi school districts who would be attending a presentation Tuesday in Jackson by the Department of Education regarding a program which would give high school students several options following their sophomore year.
Students who participated in the program would be tested following their tenth grade year, and with a passing score would be given several options. According to the article, the options include:
* Graduate from high school and enter a community college.
* Graduate from high school and enter the work force.
* Opt for a dual enrollment, taking some high school courses and some for-credit community college courses.
* Enroll in the upper-division program, which would prepare them for four-year college institutions.
The seven school districts invited to Tuesday’s presentation are Clarksdale, Canton, Gulfport, Madison County, Tupelo, Corinth and Jackson. Mississippi is one of 10 states who have expressed interest in the program. No Mississippi school district has committed to the program as of yet.
I have to give kudos to Mississippi education officials who took the initiative to at least glance at such an appealing offer. Recent numbers show that only 71 percent of students in Mississippi graduated in 2009.
Something else I read recently struck a chord with me – “Students don’t drop out in the 12th grade; they mentally drop out in the ninth.”
So here’s my suggestion: let’s go with it. For as long as I can remember, the education system has been the equivalent of baseball. It has shunned change, and as a result has fallen behind today’s advancements. And as a result, kids are leaving school at a record pace.
Today’s 16-year-olds know that regurgitating Shakespeare poems and the Pythagorean theorem won’t grant them success in today’s ever-changing society. Learning mechanical skills, how to start a business or taking college-level courses early, however, will.
Instead of pushing students out of the classroom and into the streets by offering only a one-course educational meal, this program should produce quality tax-paying citizens who are geared to take life head-on.
Because like it or not, 99 percent of the students in that English Literature class right now are either texting, reading a text message, or dozing off.
I frequently hear that small businesses are the savior for our economy. Who’s more likely to start a small business: someone who can recite the Preamble or the student that graduated after 10th grade and went to barber school?
Today’s K-12 system does a thorough job of preparing students for an annual state test, but a lackluster job of prepping them in one key area – life.
Because poetry may feel like a student’s “calling,” but even Shakespeare got hungry. And an education that isn’t useful outside of a classroom’s four walls doesn’t benefit anyone – especially the student.
For too long the education system has failed students. This new program is the perfect way to make amends. It will create a flock of life-ready citizens, instead of a pack of unemployed test-takers.
State tests come and go once a year. Life happens every day.