The Wawascene was created by Dr. Mark Stock, former Superintendent of the Wawasee Community School Corporation. Due to its local popularity, Dr. Stock has left the blog site to future Wawasee administrators.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Dropout Nation?

One of our regular readers, a parent in the community with preschool age children, has asked me to respond to the current dropout controversy.

As many of you know, Oprah ran a series on highlighting the student dropout issue. Time magazine also ran a series and part of the story involved the schools in Shelbyville Indiana.

Here is a link about the stories.

Here is an alternative view of the dropout story claiming that the "dropout crisis" is largely another "manufactured crisis."

My take on it is this:

It is still a crisis for the individual student who does not finish high school, even if there is room to argue about how large the problem really is.

Yet, something troubles me. The same school that produces the MIT graduate, the FFA leader and the local Building Trades carpenter produces dropouts too. Does that make it all the schools fault?

One huge problem I see is the lack of good paying jobs for everyone. What good will it do America's parents with or without a high school diploma if there aren't enough high wage jobs to provide people a chance at the American dream?

It is a great goal to get 100% of America's students to obtain a high school diploma under increasingly higher standards. But let's hope they have a high wage, productive job available in which to use their new skills.

My fear is that the middle class may slowly be disappearing.


Anonymous said...

It seems as if everyone's pointing fingers at someone. As a school community, we should take responsibility for our students and do whatever we can to prevent drop outs. We have one of the highest suspension and expulsion rates in the area. Students who are often suspended or expelled often do drop out. What can we do as a school community to help the problem? When will Wawasee decide to do something different? This is a serious problem and we need to take a close look at how we can improve this situation.

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

I agree that we need to work on it. No disagreement there. However, Wawasee has changed many things over the last few years to deal with these issues.

With the expansion of our alternative school we have had many students graduate who would have been previously expelled. In the old days there was nowhere else for them to go. We have several students go through the Teen Parents Succeeding program and graduate when they might have dropped out after a pregnancy. We have a new Alternative to Suspension and Expulsion program now that goes all the way down to third and fourth grade so students in grades 3-8 aren't sitting at home all day under a suspension. It includes a goal setting, therapy and a parent component. The high school is trying to start a freshman academy to try and reduce the freshman failure rate. It isn't a separate program but it is designed to help connect students to the school quicker.

These are at least a step in the right direction.

There are certainly more alternatives available now than I ever remember in school. But, we still have dropouts so we need to continue to take a close look at it as you say.

Where do jobs come from said...

This poses an interesting question. Where do jobs come from?

Does the federal, state or local governemnt 'create' jobs, as they often claim? Is the entire economy of the US dependent upon the government sector, which is dependant upon taxes?

Am I the only one who sees this as a non-functioning economy?

What is the source of the elusive middle class income? Do schools teach job creation? Are there classes that teach people how to start, run and grow a business?

Does Wawasee support the local economy with its purchases, or do the raw goods that make the 'education factory' run result in tax dollars leaving our community for South Bend, Fort Wayne and Indy?

Some of the questions we need to be asking might be this: How difficult is it for a local business to do business with the school corporation?

Can you go into a school building and even find an item purchased from a local vendor?

Not counting Dave Butler or the auto shop supplies, what percentage of the school corp purchases are from local companies?

Not counting payroll, what percentage of payment checks are sent to a zip code where 465 are the first three digits?

Does it not stand to reason that if the school corp ships tax dollars outside the community, the local economy is not strenghtened?

And just as a side note, Shelbyville is a great community, and it has a stronger local influence than many communites in Indiana.

That they have the dropout rate they have is a surprise to me.

Dr. Mark J. Stock said...

Since you asked 13 questions, I will assume they were mostly rhetorical questions. :-)

I'll just address the local purchasing issue.

Recently Governor Daniels has been pushing for even more large scale cooperative purchasing and shared services in the education sector. There is good and bad to this from a local perspective.

School systems already do a lot of cooperative purchasing which in many cases provides a better price, but it also decreases the likelihood of individual school corporations using local vendors.

It's the same dilemma people have at home. Walmart or local retail? Their hearts say one thing and their heads say another.

Anonymous said...

While Wawasee does have the Academy and the A.S.E.- they're both a joke! Students have to be independent workers and self-managers to be successful at the Academy. Most students want to go to the A.S.E. because it's only half days!

Anonymous said...

As a response to the last post, if the community is not supportive, why would the school purchase items from us?
It is commendable that the school offers alternative programs. While the academy does require students to be self-motivated and work independently, at least those students have an option.
As for a high suspension or expulsion rate, I would rather see a school do something about the offenses committed to cause the suspensions and expulsions, than a school that looks the other way and does nothing.

Anonymous said...

Honestly has anybody ever thought that its the school itself and the people trying "to make it better". This year our high school has been totally redone and I know so many people that want to drop out just because of the changes. Our school has never been the "best" by far, but the new things definitely put it lower. Too much change is never a good thing. The academy is actually looking better than the school because there you dont have to deal with any of that. You just do your work and dont get hassled by teachers and principals who "care and are trying to help us". You all ask for what we think but you never actually take it in to consideration. I personally have been thinking about going to warsaw or just getting home school because of the changes. I know tons of drop outs that are doing more with their life than I am at Wawasee. Since last year everything has gone down hill at Wawasee and its ridiculous. Not graduating is a better choice than staying at Wawasee anymore.