Saturday, April 4, 2009
Are We Setting Students Up For Failure??????
The education community is currently engaged in a new, democratic vision. We now believe that all students should graduate from high school. In fact, the state of Alabama has mandated that every incoming freshmen should begin in the Advanced track. These are admirable notions but I will put forth an old idea, some students are supposed to fail. We have set a goal of a zero dropout rate. I will maintain that this is a false pretense. Education, by its very nature, is supposed to be elitist. The best and brightest are passed to go on to higher goals while those "left behind" will fill other necessary segments of society. We allow students in Alabama to take the graduation exam up to five or six times. We have lowered the passing scale for math to a grade of 44% while science is at that difficult level of 48%. Additionally, ninth grade students who have passed Algebra I or Biology I can take (and probably pass) the math and science portions of the exam. This should set off warning bells everywhere. Is the logical conclusion that these ninth graders do not need any higher math or science classes (since they have attained the minimum required knowledge for competency in that area)? The result is we have more college students than ever before. This has set off a tremendous wave of back-patting and congratulations. The problem is that more and more incoming college students are having to take mandatory study skills classes which involves the ancient art of outlining and taking notes. I will suggest a strange idea, maybe these students are not meant for college! Maybe it's time to start raising the bar on the middle and high school levels. Maybe we should work to make the high school diploma actually count for something again. I don't hear any "wailing and anguish" of teeth from the educational community about the dropout rate on the collegiate level. Maybe it's time to return college to the elitist notion of the "best and brightest" rather than this democratic ideal of everyone going to college. I would suggest that this would be a better deal for our students as opposed to this "new" idea of encouraging all kids to go to college. Right now, the only people who benefit are the college board (designer of the ACT) and colleges who profit from all of these collegiate failures. Maybe it is time to truly start preparing our students for the future. Of course, the liberal left (from whence these democratically inspired educational ideals originated) will scream bloody murder, but the ones who will benefit will be our students and our society.