Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Lessons to be learned from dropouts"

From today's PG, deputy superintendent Linda Lane would like to investigate why students have dropped out and whether anyone reached out to these students prior to the time they dropped out.


Anonymous said...

I tend to like Linda more than any top administrator in PPS. She doesn't look at schools as storefronts within the overall corporation, isn't consumed with statistics and data, and has said more than once that the strange curriculum that comes to teachers isn't or at least, shouldn't be a script that is meant to be followed verbatim.
She tends to remember teaching is a people business.
And yet, she is off base here. This may not be a popular thing to say, but not all of the kids in urban education settings are destined to graduate, nor do they have the wherewithal. Despite bending over backwards to attract their interest and despite offering all kinds of incentives, some kids are just going to drop out as soon as they can.
I don't believe the system failed them. Instead, the lure of the quick buck, the streets, the laziness, the fun....all of these factors were calling.

Questioner said...

It may be that nothing can stop some students from dropping out.

But these students may later realize that they have made a mistake. Several months ago board members had a fairly long discussion about reentry programs; apparently students have a right to return up to some age cutoff (it might have been 21). Board members seemed to agree that reentry programs are good but it is not clear if anything was ever done to reach out to potential re-entrants. If re-entry programs were marketed like sci-tech, they would probably see results!

Parent said...

I agree that Linda Lane is one of the few (only?) top administrators who seems to really understand how schools work in real life. She has a sense of what teachers can and can't do, principals, students.

But, this article made me think three things right off the bat"

1) Mark Roosevelt will have been here for 4 years in August -- they're just getting to thinking about drop-outs now? They've barely dented high school reform now?

2) Asking students why they dropped out is a perfectly fine idea -- especially if they are asked about the idea of re-entry and told of the options. However, if you take what they say as the gospel rather than one perspective, you could end up pretty confused. Just like a majority of people in jail may say they're innocent, or more people say they voted for whoever is popular at the moment than really did, there is a lot of revisionism!

Teachers were boring, rather than, say, I slept through classes because I never went to bed at night. The work wasn't interesting to me or relevant to me versus I never learned to read well enough to do HS work versus my out of school life is so chaotic that all I needed from school was food and a place to rest...

So, sure, ask, but ask others too -- teachers, parents, students who seem likely to drop out but stay and succeed (probably your very best resource), etc.

Now, again, that may all be going on and we're just hearing about this little tidbit.

Of course, they kept saying they were going to interview people leaving the district or changing schools too, but I haven't heard if that's really happened.

Parent said...

made me think three things

But uh, only number them 1 and 2!

Mark Rauterkus said...

Article says:
Speaking at a Coro Pittsburgh luncheon on the South Side yesterday, Dr. Lane said she wants to ....

I would love to see avideo via YouTube of that meeting. Did anyone from CORO tape the speech? Is there a URL available?

Mark Rauterkus said...

Any talk of drop outs need to be put into context with the closing of South Vo Tech High School.

When South was open, there were a bunch of kids there that were attending their 4th high school. And, those kids were happy at South.

Many kids didn't fit into a 'comprehensive high school.' They'd hate Brashear, Carrick or even a suburban school. But, when they found South, they'd be very happy and felt as if South was more like a 'family.'

Sure, South wasn't the greatest high school in terms of academic performance. However, it was a place where kids were making academic progress and were IN SCHOOL. It was a valued school option that was taken away. Hence, the overall landscape in PPS is much poorer today.

Furthermore, moving the trade departments (auto body, etc.) to other larger schools isn't the same.

I would love to see an honest and open evaluation of PPS with and without South Vo Tech. That is where the interviews need to begin.