Thursday, April 22, 2010

It ain't rocket science

School is for everyone! Well, a percentage of everyone, anyway. In some cases a fairly small percentage of everyone.

Here's an interesting statistic about the graduation rates of the largest school districts in the U.S. Of the 50 largest districts, 14 have a graduation rate below 50%, with many more hovering around the 50~60% range.

Graduation Rates [N.B. This is the percentage who DO graduate, not the percentage of NONgraduates. That's right; Detroit has a failure-to-graduate rate of nearly 80%.]

21.7 Detroit
38.5 Baltimore City, Md.
38.9 New York City
43.1 Milwaukee
43.8 Cleveland
44.2 Los Angeles
45.3 Miami-Dade County, Fla.
46.3 Dallas
46.5 Pinellas County, Fla.
46.8 Denver
48.5 Memphis
48.7 Broward County, Fla.
48.9 Fort Worth
48.9 Houston
50.4 Nashville squeaks over the 50th %ile and I won't bore you with the rest of the list.

Remember, folks, we're talking about ordinary people in plain-vanilla public high schools, not ordinary people trying to get a degree from the Robert Goddard Rocket Science Academy for People Who Sneer at Those Low-IQ MENSA Members, a scenario where it might be reasonable to see a significantly low graduation rate. After all, it is rocket science. (Apropos, I attended a seminar there once. It's a very nice campus but the food is terrible. It all tastes like hydrazine. Yech! Except for the Tang, of course. The Tang is still good. Tang is always good.)

The student union and cafeteria at RGRSAPWSTLIMM

But educators are gonna lambaste unschooling for failing to adequately provide for students? As they say in Cajun country: Donnez-moi un break!


  1. Guess how Portland Public schools get around this? They make it mandatory for kids to be in school until the age of 18. That's right, it's illegal to drop out of school in Oregon. Kids who are failing either don't get diplomas or they go to some special alternative school that doctors the diploma so that the school district can "claim" that more students are graduating.

    I have an idea...let's just frustrate kids so that our school districts can have their numbers and pat themselves on the back! Oh, wait, that IS what we do already! NVM.

    I wish kids had choices!

  2. NH passed legislation last year requiring mandatory attendance until age 18 or graduation. Pretty awful.

  3. Washington's compulsory schooling age range was extended from 16 to 18 in 2006 or 2007.

    I don't think it's all about improving the grad stats. Follow the money...

  4. wow, that's pretty "fascinating." Although I think what i mean is pathetic.

  5. You know... I'm sure many of you have had this experience: I drove by a middle school today out in the middle of nowhere on a road I never use, my stomach started to get really knotted up and then I immediately thought, right on the heels of that feeling, HA! that's not how *WE* do it.

    School sends me bonkers emotionally until I realize we have a great alternative in our lives and I am so happy it's there.

  6. After watching Jay Leno's "Jay Walking" I decided that nobody can ever, ever, ever again give me a hard time about unschooling. There are plenty of HS and college grads that are pretty pathetic and uneducated. We can do better than that without even TRYing!

  7. I'll just add to my comment...


    Thank you, that is all!

  8. WOW... wow.. really? And people are worried about what we're doing... yeeeahhh...

  9. No kidding, Ren! I saw one Jay Walking where Jay asked CALIFORNIANS where Mexico is, and they didn't know. No joke. Not long after that, I saw somebody on the LA or LA Co. school board criticizing unschooling because he didn't see how unschoolers would learn things like geography.

    It would be funny if it weren't so sad.