Wednesday, May 13, 2009

California dropout crisis

CDE Report Shows Scant Movement on California Drop Out Rates

Yesterday State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell today released the annual report on dropout and graduation rates for the 2007-08 school year.
In 2007-08, 68.1 percent of public school students in California graduated, up from 67.7 percent last year. The adjusted four-year derived dropout rate for the same school year is 20.1 percent, down from 21.1 percent last year.
“I am heartened that the graduation rate is up slightly, but California’s dropout rate is still unacceptably high,” said O’Connell. “If we look deeper into the data, we see alarmingly high dropout rates among African American and Hispanic students. There are long-term economic repercussions from not graduating for the student, for their communities, and for our statewide economy. These data provide even more evidence of the challenge and the moral imperative of closing the achievement gap as well as increasing graduation rates among all students.”
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) commented on the report:
“The high dropout numbers reported today by Superintendent O’Connell illustrate that California’s most important work is ensuring that millions of students don’t simply fall through the cracks by dropping out of school. Even in these challenging fiscal times, we must do more for these students – especially in Latino and African-American communities where the crisis is demonstratively worse and where there are economic justice implications for our entire society. The way that California can build a just and thriving economy over the long-term is to provide education and training that inspires students to plan for careers in the state’s growing job sectors.”

Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee comments, “the Department of Education numbers are highly controversial among outside researchers, with some contending that the true rate is as high as one-third, with some urban school districts losing 50 percent or more of those who enter the ninth grade.”
Meanwhile Senator Gloria Romero, Chair of the Senate Committee on Education descries the minimal dropout rate reduction and argues that education failure needs data reporting overhaul such as her authored legislation SB 651.
“We don’t need another report to tell us that we are failing miserably to educate the future citizens of California,” said Senator Romero (D-East Los Angeles). “We need to completely transform how we engage students to stay in school and to excel. We need better measures predicting dropout trends instead of gloomy statistics that just measure the body count. And we certainly need to increase our graduation rates far more than a measly .4 percent to meet the economic challenges of tomorrow,” she said.
The California Department of Education (CDE) release described in detail the report.
Duane Campbell response.
So, what should be done?
All Romero's bill does is ask for another report.
We know what causes dropouts. the problem is that the legislature refuses to fund the programs that would reduce drop outs.

Too many working-class students have been trained for defeat. Sitting in classes completing endless worksheets to prepare for poor quality exams confirms a cynical belief that schooling and education make little real difference in life. On the other hand, social participation—and school-to-work opportunities along with digital media empowers students and provides a means to break out of these defeatist patterns. Work in community agencies gives students a realistic view of the processes of change. Adult community activists serve as mentors to students and encourage them to complete their education. Students begin their transition to the world of work and return to school more mature and focused on improving their own education.
Interaction with life, work, racism, and poverty will convince many students of the value of education. Students gain a sense of social responsibility when they participate in projects that actually contribute to the health of their own communities.
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