Currently there is a “dropout dilemma” in the halls of Lawrence High. On Monday, September 21, a regional dropout summit was held at the district office to discuss solutions to the escalating dropout rate. Community leaders, youth coordinators and even a few student representatives got together to discuss possible ways to convince students to stay in school.
To stop students from dropping out the first thing that needs to happen is that these community leaders and educators responsible for the curriculum in Lawrence High need to reach out to the groups of students who are actually doing the dropping out. The participants in this summit came up with solutions to reduce the dropout rate such as increasing opportunities for real world learning and giving students the chance to volunteer and get involved in the community. These are great ideas but the members of this committee need to understand who the students are that they are trying to reach.
Many people who I know that have dropped out did not do it because school was hard for them. They dropped out because Lawrence High did not provide them with the type of learning they required. These students who are dropping out are not students who are trying to get community service hours for their board of regents requirements. These are students that are just trying to graduate, nothing more. For example, in the social studies department at Lawrence High School teachers are strongly encouraged to require students to create a comprehensive notebook containing all the notes and handouts for the class that is handed in for a grade after each chapter test. These notebook checks in many cases are worth almost as many points as the chapter test. Even if a student gets an A on every test for the semester in a history class at Lawrence High it is still possible to fail the overall class if the student does not complete the notebook. School should be knowledge based. A student should not be penalized for being able to achieve a good score on a test without taking notes in class.
Administrators do not actually care about the students themselves who are dropping out. How can these administrators care for students that they have never met, never actually tried to talk to so that they could find out the reasons why the student decided to drop out of high school? The reason they care so much about this drop out dilemma is that when a student drops out it hurts the schools test scores and many other statistics such as AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) and graduation rates that then has a poor reflection on the administration itself.
According to Matt Brungardt, principal of Lawrence High, schools have a moral obligation to prepare the students for life. This is where the school is falling short. For students that are considered gifted in intelligence but at the same time are the outcasts of the social scene, school seems like continuous busy work with no real learning value attached to it. I have met many students that have dropped out of Lawrence High and gone on to take part in either the Lawrence Diploma Completion program or go on to get their GED. Many of these “dropouts” are now attending forms of higher education such as community college or even attend universities such as Kansas University before their class has even graduated from high school. There is a misconception that the students that drop out are not prepared for life. These students are no less prepared for life because they dropped out. The reality is that many of the students that drop out do it because they are prepared for life and no longer have anything to gain from attending high school.