16 December 2006

You're Kidding, Right?

"U.S. public schools should be run by private contractors who would graduate most students by 10th grade, concluded an expert commission sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The plan also calls for state funding to replace local property taxes, free pre-kindergarten and higher teacher pay on a merit-based system. The Gates Foundation and other sponsoring groups may pay states to help implement it, organizers said...

The panel, called the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, estimates that its plan would cost little more than $500 billion the U.S. currently spends each year on kindergarten through 12th grade education. The federal government provides about 9 percent of the current total, with the rest split between state revenue and local property taxes...

The added costs of about $60 billion a year would be offset by graduating about 60 percent of students after the 10th grade, when tests would show they are are ready for jobs or college. The commission predicted its improvements eventually would leave about 95 percent of all high school graduates ready for college."

There's much more to read in the article, but I pulled out the more frightening aspects. Graduating kids in 10th grade? After working with 15- and 16-year olds the last 15 years, I'm not convinced this is in the best interests of kids. Will there be jobs waiting for them? Can the kids get to them? Not all of them drive, let alone own their own cars. Might this become another area where low income families again get left out of options?

How does getting kids out of high school at 10th grade mean more of them will be ready for college? I'm also mystified how private contractors would do better than the current public system. It's not as if all of the issues---NCLB, uninvolved parents, poor families---are magically going to go away just because a company is running the school.

I'm hoping that this be one study that gets swept under the rug.

1 comment:

druin said...

Maybe at that point (10th grade), the students will enter a vocational program and apprentice to learn a trade? I know my area has an excellent vocational school that is underutilized due to the push for everyone to complete a college bound curriculum.