The United States once had the world’s top high-school graduation rate. It has now fallen to 13th place behind countries like South Korea, the Czech Republic and Slovenia. Worse still, a new study from the Education Trust, a nonpartisan foundation, finds that the United States is the only country in the industrial world where young people are less likely than their parents to graduate high school.
Most American parents never see these damning international comparisons, which are based on census figures and labor force statistics. Instead, parents who want to know how their schools are doing in terms of vital statistics like graduation rates must rely on phony calculations cooked up by state governments that are determined to hide the truth for as long as possible.
Evidently my cautious optimism during the time I was on a search committee for a school superintendent was misplaced.
Blaming students and parents for this isn’t the answer. Personally, I’d advise any student college bound and with sense (and those don’t always go together) to either a) get early admission and exit high school before the senior year, or b) drop out, get a GED, then get admission to a college. The latter might not get you into the Ivy League, but perhaps you can emigrate and have an really interesting life.
The core of the problem is that you have a collusion of school administrators and the teachers’ trade union whose main goal is to preserve their turf. And I honestly don’t see either party (especially the Democrats, who receive so much support from the trade union) taking on this combination, something I discussed last summer in Obama Can’t Get Past Bonjour.