Public Schools have dropout problems


Mr. Wilson Crabtree
Holly Lake Gazette
P O Box 986
Hawkins TX 75765

Dear Mr. Crabtree:

I have long been concerned about school dropouts. The fact is that fact that many school dropouts sit in school classes. I believe that most teachers will tell you this. The "No Child Left Behind" program sounds good. We are, however, leaving many children behind and the school system we operate under is incapable of dealing with this problem. I recently wrote the following article and submit it herewith for your consideration.

Current news concern the appalling high percentage of young people whodrop out of school. Many seem surprised and concerned at the number. Interestingly, the question of why does not seem to be asked nor addressed. The reality is that most of the dropouts dropped out long before they stopped attending school. Why should students whose learning has essentially ceased be required to warm a seat in school costing the taxpayers $7,000.00-10,000.00 per student per year to warm a seat? And, it can probably be shown that the school systems with the highest percentage of dropouts have the highest cost per student. The expenditure of money and striving to retain dropouts in school at any cost does not solve the problem. Those who are dropouts, whether physically out of school or occupying space in school are usually serious disciplinary problems. Our citizens would likely be appalled at how much time teachers and administrators spend dealing with disciplinary problems rather than teaching.

Problem students who are not interested in learning make it difficult to have a proper learning environment for students who are in school to learn. And, too, it contributes to a "dumbing down." Having done considerable substitute teaching for eight school years in five public and one private school systems, I have a good understanding of the problems school face. There are few middle and high school classrooms that do not have dropouts sitting in the classrooms. A number of times I have asked a class why they were there if they were not there to learn. Sometimes the response would be a chorus of six or more students in unison saying "because we have to be." Many times I have heard a student say "I hate school." One sixth grade student who refused to even attempt to do an assignment was asked how he expected to earn a living. The response was that he would steal if he had to.

I have seen students as early as first grade who were already on the road to prison. Should students in middle and high school who are barely on a third grade reading level be forced to sit in a class when they are unable to do or comprehend the academics? Should students be allowed to graduate who have not in reality earned the right to graduate? And, I am not talking about special education students, which is another serious problem.

The dropout problem can be properly addressed, but not by policy establishing theorists who are devoid of reality and/or common sense. And, is it even possible given todays social mentality and unwillingness to alter the status quo? More than a few good teachers who feel their hands are tied are burned out or on the verge of burnout.

Benton Nesmith
Hawkins TX

Ed. note: We decided to run this as a "news" item instead of putting it on the Opinion Page due to its importance. W.C.

Last Updated on Thursday, 16 April 2009 16:30