Why do we let them drop out?

This may seem out of left field, and maybe there’s an obvious answer that I’m missing, but I’ll throw this out anyway, and y’all can throw the obvious answers right back at me.

One of South Carolina’s greatest education challenges is having one of the worst dropout rates in the country. In fact, of the favorite subject of critics of public schools in our state, that one is the most on-point. Everybody keeps wringing their hands as to what to do about it.

But I got to wondering: Why do we let them drop out? Why is that even allowed?

Thinking aloud (if you want to be charitable and call it "thinking"), I posed that question to one of my colleagues, and she said, "Well, you can’t compel people to go to school if they don’t want to."

Really? We compel them when they’re younger. Why is it OK for the state to stand in loco parentis and say, "Go to school" when they’re 8, but not when they’re 16? Is anyone really prepared to seriously argue that 16-year-olds are capable of making a decision with such huge consequences for the rest of their lives?

Actually, I’m sure some can — but they’re not the ones dropping out. Almost by definition, a teenager who drops out of school is declaring his or her incompetence to make such a huge decision, with staggering repercussions not only for the individual, but for society as a whole (in that we can’t afford to have a lot of such people deciding to be a burden to the rest of society, which they will be).

It seems to me that allowing dropouts is a holdover of a time when that was a legitimate life option, when you could make a good living without a high school education. That’s not the case any more. (And by the way, to eliminate compulsory education for all ages, as a few extremists would do, would be to condemn large swaths of society to permanent underclass status. You may say truly that we already have that — but is that a good thing.)

Yes, I know that if dropouts stayed in against their will, it would be a huge challenge to the schools to try to educate them — especially since so many quit because they’re having trouble meeting the higher academic standards required today. But that’s a challenge I think the schools should have to take on. Whether through alternative schools or innovative curricula in the mainstream schools, there’s got to be a way to deal with this.

33 thoughts on “Why do we let them drop out?

  1. Doug

    If they stay, they will negatively impact the ability to teach the kids who either a) want to be there or b) have parents who take responsibility for making sure they behave while they are there.
    I’ve witnessed firsthand what having undisciplined kids do to the learning environment at the elementary school level.
    Fix the discipline problem early on and maybe some of these kids will straighten out later on.
    And why not offer a real vocational high school option for those kids who want it?
    Many kids dropout because they are forced to sit in classrooms where the curriculum is embarrassingly inappropriate. What possible use is it to have a 16 year old kid forcefed drivel like Emily Dickinson, Chaucer, Hamlet when what he/she really needs is an ability to balance a checkbook, comprehend a training manual, apply for a mortgage, use Excel, install a steroe, etc.
    My son is a senior in high school with all A’s this year… he said to me last week,
    “What am I reading Beowulf for?” and I didn’t have a good answer for him. Imagine what it’s like for kids who are struggling.
    Give the kids a reason to WANT to be in school and the dropout rate will be reduced immediately. But do not force kids to be in school when they have no interest in being there.

  2. Mark Whittington


    As are so many other problems that plague our society, the lack of educational attainment is a symptom of the problem rather than the problem itself. Of course we’re going to be in the bottom in every category given the nature of capitalism. Capitalism necessarily will create a relatively highly educated professional middle class, but other than that, the prospects are not bright. As I have said many times before, if we all had equally perfect educational backgrounds, then we still would have the exact same skewed long-term distribution of wealth given the same tax structure. Capitalism puts most people at a severe statistical disadvantage. Since wealth and poverty are passed from generation to generation (for the most part), a permanent underclass consisting of the progeny of the disadvantaged has been a permanent fixture of capitalist society.

    The so called “merit” system that was implemented after WWII was created to give people an equal opportunity to compete in the academic sphere so as to win the right to compete at higher levels within capitalism itself. Ironically, two of the main architects of the merit system envisioned creating a classless society through educational opportunity, yet their ideas failed because they didn’t understand how capitalism really worked. You can’t create a classless society when your system is based on sorting, classifying, and ranking individuals on their perceived merit. The educational system is very prejudicial a priori, and it rewards certain cognitions while rejecting others. People from different classes (and often races based on class) solve problems in different ways. I’ve seen a thousand brilliant so-called “rednecks” and black people (i.e., those people who are usually marginalized in our society) who are incredibly adept at solving problems, yet these fine people always end up being judged and controlled by people from other classes and races with different standards and cognitions.

    Instead of basing the educational system on induction and empiricism (Locke’s outmoded model), we should base our educational system on deductive, democratic/creative thinking. Unfortunately, capitalism gets in the way because capitalism’s divisions of labor are based capital investment and return rather than on creating the best society for all. People working together as a team, where the good ideas from all are implemented, will always outperform a hierarchal system, yet capitalism, by its nature, ensures that a hierarchal system will always win-a strange dichotomy. We’ll never make progress with such a lop-sided system.

  3. Capital A

    Swift had it right all along. Let them be eaten.
    I don’t mean that in the symbolic sense that our Abercrombie addicted, MTV muddled, reality TV soaked society is already ingesting them (along with original thought), but, rather, we should literally EAT THEM!
    It is entirely logical! It dovetails perfectly with out society’s penchant for producing bulging waistlines, as well.
    The kids get to go away and not be bored. What can be more fun than a dive down the awe-inspiring alimentary canal?
    The adults get to speed up the progress on the ole circle of life with a tasty, self-prepared(on a couple of levels), burp producin’ meal to boot! (Boots not necessarily included.)
    It’s win/win time, babies! Grab your tiny apples!
    Move over, Maurice’s! Here comes kids in pieces!
    That’s gooooooood eatin’, y’all!
    (For the slow kids, yes, this was meant to be a satire of any horse’s patoot suggestion that kids should be allowed to drop out of school. The very fact you’re reading this, and I had to explain it to you is argument enough against dropout approval!)

  4. Capital A

    Doug, only a sheer piece of Samsonite (as witnessed by your sleights against Western literature) would raise a child who would ask such a question as that.
    Who needs art? Let’s burn the classics so they can have some immediate and directly measurable effect. Keep dumb brain warm.
    If reading your checkbook inspires you as a human, then sad, sad you are indeed. Grendel greed has already snatched away your imagination in the night.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Douglassio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

  5. Herb

    Are kids in high school still reading Beowulf? I had gotten the impression that a lot of kids aren’t reading anything? For goodness’ sake, Doug, let them be challenged!
    Our oldest daughter chose English as one of her high school majors in Germany, and as a result, had a six-hour comprehensive exam on Shakespeare. I’m not sure most high school kids here would even know who Bill was.
    Education is more than just learning skills. It is learning to think. It is learning to understand where our language came from (which is a plug for learning Greek and Latin, which a lot of high school students in Europe still do).
    Most kids’ attitude reflects the attitude of their parents. If parents don’t think learning is worthwhile, the kids won’t either. And I suspect that dads have the most influence in this regard.

  6. Doug

    Mr. Lowercase A,
    In case you missed it, art did not stop
    in the 1800’s. I’m all for exposing kids
    to literature, but the tired old stuff that
    bored us as teenagers is no less boring today.
    Why not give them John Irving instead of
    Dickens? Or Mamet instead of Shakespeare?
    or (heaven forbid) Spielberg instead of
    Hemingway? Give them SOMETHING that they
    can connect with or be inspired by… not
    the same old dusty drivel that keeps liberal arts colleges in business producing the next generation of PhD’s without jobs
    or MFA’s “working” as unpublished authors.
    My son’s reading list for last summer was
    Hamlet, To The Lighthouse (Dickinson),
    and 1984. Honors English this spring has included Chaucer, Shelley, Milton,
    Zzzzzzzzzzz… A character in a recent Nick Hornby book remarked that after reading the first pages of To The Lighthouse, he understood why she was so depressed. I agree.
    Take off your elitist cap for a second and describe a curriculum that a 16 year old black kid from a low income family would benefit from today. Something that would
    inspire him to stay in school… try it.
    Our current educational system is a self-indulgent, self-supporting bureacracy designed to propagate a set of “standards” that have little relevance to the real world. We should be teaching kids how
    to think (not what to think), how to work
    hard, and how to make the most of whatever
    talents they have.
    The majority of us make it through each day without citing Shakespeare. But if you and your chums down at Starbucks want to wax poetically on the beauty of a spring morn’, go for it. If you want to speak in iambic pentameter about the latest Pinot Noir, be my guest. If the thought of spending a Friday evening listening to Sir John Gielgud read from the collected works of Samuel Beckett makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, then enjoy!
    You’re in the minority.
    There’s a whole lot of productive people in this world who recognize the difference between what is taught by the education
    conglomerate and what is important to know.
    I remain, comfortable in my ignorance…

  7. Doug

    Ooops… replace Woolf for Dickinson
    above. All those depressing female authors
    run together for me. 🙂
    Here’s the authors I’d have on my
    high school reading list:
    Here’s the authors I would have on my
    high school reading list:
    John Irving
    Garrison Keillor
    Studs Terkel
    Bill Bryson
    Ayn Rand (just for kicks)
    P.J. O’Rourke
    Anne Lamott
    Jeffrey Lent (excellent historical fiction)
    Maybe expose them to the poetry of
    Springsteen, Bono, and Michelle Shocked…

  8. Phillip

    How could humankind have gone so wrong, Doug? If only we’d had you as an immortal policeman of culture over the centuries, we could have avoided the mistake of thinking Hamlet, Chaucer, Emily Dickinson were anything other than “drivel.”
    Doug, one of the reasons for studying classic literature or art created in past centuries is to come to grips with what it means to be a human being…What are the essential elements of “human-ness” that bind us across cultures, and indeed, across centuries, even millenia? If your son doesn’t see the point of reading “Beowulf,” that’s the teacher’s fault for not establishing the connection, not “Beowulf”s fault.

  9. Capital A

    I am no elitist. For instance, I collect comic book art and have even used sets of comic books to teach writing (in the second third of my young life). I continue to champion comics and graphic novels as true Modernist American art forms. You think “da man” approved entirely of those lesson plans?
    I never could get Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns approved. Maybe Sin City or V for Vendetta, now that they are movies…
    The point you’re missing is that Shakespeare’s works and undated tales such as Beowulf are TIMELESS. Beowulf was the first (presumably) heterosexual superhero of Western record. The first of which, Gilgamesh(Hello, girls!), was not so much…
    What’s not fun or interesting about a hero who rips monster’s arms off? Or would your spawn-sans-imagination prefer one of the various, pitiful updated retellings that went direct to DVD? I mean, they were made more recently so they must be better, right?
    Douglass, you know what all of those writers you mentioned have in common? They all SUCK. Is that direct and non-elitist enough for you? If you’re reading Ayn Rand “for kicks,” I’d argue you’ve been recently kicked in the head by an Equus.
    Reading those writers you proffer in the place of those immortal would be the equivalent of preferring the Mormon bible or one of those various dumbed-down children’s Bibles of today. Why read a sorry shadow when you can take directly from the source of inspiration? You prefer a Xerox to an original? Doubtful.
    If so, then I would surmise that you are the type of person who actually laughs at The Family Circus or who uses a yellow highlighter while scanning Funky Winkerbean.
    Digressing a bit and since it seems your music collection stops in the mid-80’s while progressing certainly no later than the early 90s, I’ll suggest some more modern bands which may make you a “hep cat” in the eyes of your boy: Wilco, Spoon, Radiohead, FranzFerdinand, Fischerspooner and Sufjan Stevens. Those bands are all still performing, so I know you’ll love ’em! Yes, there was life after Pink Floyd, my friend.
    In the end, just because I love the greats, hardly makes me a granola. Why can’t I have a soccer ball on one foot and The Metamorphoses in the opposing hand (with Superman #650 waiting on deck)? Why can’t I appreciate the farflung voices from the past and try to daily demonstrate the lessons learned in my words and actions of 2006?
    Twain’s works, for instance, taught me to call a spade a spade. So then, may I offer you a plug of chewbacky, you Jake Packard?
    The most obvious point you’ve missed is that those works you degraded are better than the tripe you offered up because they have stood the test of time and continue to answer the call, in the hands of a skilled teacher, every time.
    Furthermore, why can’t a man be an athlete and a scholar? There was a Renaissance, correct? Your child’s world history book may helpful if that last question contained a large word. Of course, it may not be if religious revisionists have made it to your district.
    You have succeeded, Digdoug, in making me nostalgic. I’m going to read some Robert E. Howard before leaving to put some goals in the back of the net.
    By Crom, Conan inspires me to take on opposing defenses; what can I say?

  10. Capital A

    Douglass, I have taught inner city and minority kids in the past, and you know what their unswerving works of choice were?
    The Crucible and Shane. I tried to move on to the next work, and they would cry, “Come back, Shane! Shane, come back!”
    Those weren’t my faves of the curriculum, but they loved that play and that novelette. Mildly amusing Rolling Stone columnists went largely ignored in the corner magazine stack.
    Go figure. Better yet, take off your reverse-racist glasses and see that great works espouse truths that go deeper than skin color or even financial standing.

  11. Doug

    Let’s do a little test.
    Had you never read Beowulf, would your
    life be any different?
    How about if you also subtracted Shakespeare?
    Would your present life be measurably
    different? Or would you have found
    other pieces of literature to spark your
    imagination? So could it be a function
    of the reader versus the literature?
    Hmmm… wonder what would happen if we
    gave struggling students the same
    chance to find literature that would
    inspire them?
    If my son can get all A’s and NOT
    find any meaning in Beowulf, I’m just going
    to have to live with that stigma.
    Poor ignorant boy!
    Like Bruce, I am now Born to Run!

  12. Doug

    Oh, yeah, “a”…
    My son is an athlete and a scholar.
    Track and cross country. Better than
    that, he’s a decent human being with
    a great sense of humor. A chip
    off the old Samsonite. 🙂
    He is also able to decide for himself
    what is good versus what bites. He
    doesn’t need a tired old English teacher
    delivering the same syllabus (bi?) for
    the twentieth time to forcefeed him on
    the origins of satire… he can get all
    that from The Daily Show and South Park.
    You’ll be a happier person if you stop
    trying to get other people to buy into
    your definition of what is classic.
    I’m willing to accept that there are
    just as many literary marvels today as
    there were back when Beowulf was just
    a private.

  13. Doug

    To get back on the track of what to do about
    dropouts, here’s an example of a vocational school that works. Very low dropout rate,
    very high placement of graduates into the workforce or college… I know it’s in Massachusetts, but try and get over that.
    There are some things Yankees do better. 🙂
    Imagine a school where you spend 50% of your time learning a trade (not just manual labor, but high tech as well)… as well as having the opportunity to pursue enough on the academic side to go to college if you choose. Granted, the may only spend a day on Beowulf, but you’ll just have to bear with that when you are making $80 hr as a plumber or working as a pastry chef in a restaurant.
    Disclaimer: Yes, I graduated from this voke school before I went to Purdue. So did my brother who works as a director of Lockheed Martin… as did my other brother who is retiring after 20 years as a prison guard… as did my nephew who’s at Penn State. We’ve never all sat down to discuss Macbeth, but we somehow make it through each day.
    Imagine if we built one of these schools in Richland County… instead of creating more and more “magnet” programs that allow the white kids to be separated from the black kids. Taxpayer funded segregation!!! Fantastic.

  14. BLSaiken

    Cynically, as an industrial trainer, it’s more business for my firm when half-educated youngsters come into the workplace. As a concerned citizen, dropping out (bored or not) is one of the most short-sighted decisions with which you can mess up your life.

  15. The Cackalacky Candidate

    The purpose of our public education system should be to teach a child to become a citizen.
    Those who claim that children grow up faster than they used to have it dead wrong. Children used to grow up a lot faster when it was expected that they go to work at an earlier age. We no longer expect that an 18 year old adult can make a living upon leaving high school….and they live up to our expectations. We have extended the years of childhood for our children into their twenties.
    Upon graduation from high school, the majority of people do one of three (3) things:
    * Join the Military.
    * Prepare for a career by pursuing a higher level of education at a college or trade school.
    * Try to make a living.
    The problem is that 18 year old adults have been taught how to fill in little black dots, (as demanded by the current crop of Politicians in order to serve their political goals), but have not been taught the basic, transferrable skills necessary to earn a living much above minimum wage…..(Politicians should be expelled from public schools.) The expectations and resources should be applied to teenage students that will prepare them for the World of Work.
    The Cackalacky Candidate proposes the following mission statements for public schools:
    *In elementary school, Johnny and Susie shall become proficient and competent in Reading, Writing, Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, and Division.
    *In middle school, Johnny and Susie shall become proficient and competent in the basic tools (computers, software, checkbook, etc.) that they will rely upon to become self sufficient adults, shall become cognizant of the greater world around them, and shall learn how to negotiate and control the onrush of adolescent hormones.
    *In high school, Johnnie and Suzie shall establish a set of life and career goals, and develop the competencies to allow them to prosper and become effective citizens in an ever changing and uncertain world.
    In other words, when Johnnie and Susie are all growed up, they should have a pat answer for the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” High schools will required more resources to help Johnnie and Susie answer that question.
    (Although Beowulf may fit into the above scheme, those of you who are focusing on it are simply missing the bigger picture.)
    Another problem has to do with the concept of “getting a good job”. It is becoming an obsolete concept. The only good job is a secure job and those are increasingly scarce in this ever changing and uncertain world. Children must be taught transferrable skills so that they can carry their job security with them.
    The concept of having a “career” must be extended and instilled in all children, regardless of education. Unfortunately, in American there has developed a rather snobbish attitude towards those who choose not to attend college and who choose a trade or vocation. This has manifested itself in too many college students declaring undecided majors, college drop-outs, college students changing majors, , along with the difficulty and shortage of finding a good tradesman or contractor when you need one. Career must be the initial focus, to be achieve by a plan including the appropriate education.
    The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) has placed a greater emphasis on writing skills, with the inclusion of an essay component. The Cackalacky Candidate proposes that the High School Exit Exam for South Carolina schools consist of the following, single, essay question (with students having had their high school experience geared towards answering it):
    Please describe, in detail, your plans for your life and career. The following elements shall include, but not be limited to:
    *An inventory of your abilities, skills, and talents.
    *Your chosen career path and the road map that you will follow to achieve your career goals.
    *Your goals for life, beyond career, to include family, community, and citizenship.
    *Your place in the greater world.
    In summary, teach children how to accept responsibility for themselves, make a plan, and follow it.
    …..and that is how you resolve the high drop out rate, and other social pathologies, that give the State of South Carolina some of the worst social statistics in the United States of America.
    Thank you for your thoughtful consideration and that most precious gift of your time.
    “The Voter’s Choice for No Office.”
    (PS…Warren, is the April 1 debate still on??)

  16. tammy

    A funny thing…we’re discussing Shakespeare, Beowulf and PUBLIC EDUCATION. It is PUBLIC education. It’s like the PUBLIC health department. You know…that place we send the underprivileged so they can get shots and such since they can’t afford insurance and the luxury of a private doctor…where they can get the basic needs demanded by our society. I don’t understand why public education is treated differently than public health. Why are some all about public education yet not public health? Why is there a stigma for one yet not for the other? They are both set up to serve the same population yet we shun kids that need public education most in turn doing a huge disservice to our communities.
    The #1 focus of public education SHOULD be those kids that are dropping out—not my kids. My kids will be fine and will be much better served to grow up in a community less saturated with poverty and crime and all the other issues that accompany a life with no education. In the long run, these dropout kids will cost us all a fortune and until we break the cycle that these kids are constantly born into these problems will never end.
    We don’t go to the health department and ask for a nose job so why do we think a public school has a responsibility to prepare a child for college? We expect WAY too much of the public education system and now it is failing all of us in more ways than one. I prefer public dollars be used to educate citizens with the basics so they can function within our society.
    And if I prefer something more specialized for my child, it is my responsibility to provide that myself.

  17. Capital A

    We’re already a culture of rubes and, here, you decry the cornerstones of Western culture. Do you think they just throw darts at a shelf of library books to decide what lasts and what doesn’t?
    The books are still read because they are, simply, LASTING. What’s so hard to understand about that? Our cultural canon is no misfire and no accident.
    We need cultural touchstones where our very society can meet and from which it can communicate. This affects everything from a classroom to mass media to popular films. Our understanding of literature (or our ignorance of it) affects and infects our almost every idea, measurably or immeasurably, on a daily basis. From sandstone to samsonite, it’s an elementary truth.
    Should the study of literature be all that children are to be engaged in during a class day? Certainly not.
    However, a few moments pondering “I Heard A Fly Buzz When I Died” shouldn’t bug parent nor supposed scholar, especially when there are unseen, character enriching benefits to potentially be had from said practice.
    I know, I know. You want junior to hurry up and get that thousands-of-dollars a year job so that he can get out of your house and leave you and ma in the jacuzzi you’ve worked so hard to add onto the back porch.
    I would beseech you to encourage him to at least read The Holy Bible and The Odyssey so that he can at least have an understanding or precursor of the people and the situations he will potentially experience in this life.
    Dougray, I figured you for an “engineer-type.” As Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Not a bad read. You may have heard tell of it.) states, I knew you “by de back.” You’re most concerned with the bottom line, and I will place a heavy wager that complacent, lazy teachers in league with his own intelligence are aiding your student in his ride on the straight-A stagecoach. I saw it everyday.
    I’m sorry that his teachers aren’t more passionate and couldn’t connect the present to the past for him. I guarantee I could have.
    However, the student must make an effort. Great books don’t come with eyepopping graphics and eardrum-aching sound effects. A Tale of Two Cities is not 25 to Life (a game which your son is playing right now, and that is so graphic, you’d ground him for days if you were only aware of his possession of it).
    Just don’t disparage him from reading anything more that 25 years old, ok? He can make all the money he wants, work himself into an early plot and send you and mom on Xmas getaways to exotic places like Branson, Missouri in due time.
    To paraphrase the author Howard speaking through his character Conan: There’s time enough for death in the grave.

  18. Lee

    “Dropouts” is a term intended to shift responsibility away from the system which failed these students. “Throw outs” would be more accurate for most of them.
    As stated above, the emphasis should be on making school better, instead of resorting to forced attendance.
    The elitists who design curriculum wouldn’t think of dirtying their hands with manual labor, so they abolished the agriculture and shop classes.
    Their mushy liberal fear of criticizing anyone gives carte blanche to illegal immigrants to take away the remaining low skill, no skill, and entry level jobs from those who had no place in the public school system. But the educrats get their grass cut cheaper by these off-the-books laborers, so to hell with the poor Americans who were cheated by the system.

  19. Doug

    Capital A,
    Keep trying to come up with a vision
    of my son… you’re so far off the mark
    now it’s quite amusing. You’re going
    to have to try real hard to link his lack of interest in the “classics” to some other type of anti-social behavior.
    He doesn’t own “25 To Life”… I asked
    him. From the looks of the game, it’s
    pretty much the same old first person shooters that are all the rage . He owns some of them.
    He plays them about as much as he plays
    Madden and MLB games. Why would I care if he owned it? It’s just a game. I’d be more concerned if he was walking around the house with a copy of “The Iliad”. Might need to send him to a shrink for that.
    Do you have any? What are they doing these days?
    Mine has a job, is enrolled in college in the fall, attends church on a regular basis, plays sports, buys and sells baseball cards on Ebay, has never smoked, drank, or done drugs, sleeps too much, plays video games, watches “The Office” and “24” with me.
    In 12 years, we’ve had no calls from teachers, principals, police, or any other problem beyond picking on his little brother. And I’m supposed to be concerned when he tells me he thinks writing a sonnet for English class is a waste of time. I think it is, too. No, I should really be telling him it is the key to his future. Without it, how else will he be able to look down upon the little people who just go to work every day.
    Oh, yeah, next time you write a blog entry, thank an engineer. The Internet would sure be interesting if left to the humanities majors. Your envy of engineers is very telling.
    Hey, we all should do what we do best and enjoy doing. Our school systems should encourage the same. If that bugs you, that’s a “you” problem, not a “me” problem. I find most “classic” literature boring,
    so what?
    p.s. I read the Bible last year, start to finish, in daily chunks. Do you think we can get it on the Richland 2 reading list?
    Oh, nevermind.

  20. Capital A

    Digdougy, I’ll state this really simply since reading comprehension fails you. I have no problem encouraging kids to “do their best at what they’re best at doing.” My main idea is that this should be done in ADDITION to exposing them to the classics. It certainly makes for a more well rounded person of which you seem to be the antithesis.
    I have no problem with engineers until they try to “do what they aren’t good at doing.” Wasn’t that your point also?
    Leave dealings with texts you can’t or won’t try to fathom to the more creative types. You’ll probably reach a frustrated boiling point of Farenheit 451 before you achieve a “measurable” success that you so desperately seek from the ventures of this life.
    We are the musicmakers and we are the dreamers of dreams. You…go build something.
    You accuse me of elitism. The library is free and open to all. How non-elitist is that? It was an every-other-day stopoff before basketball and soccer practice for me in high school. If I’m the posterchild for elitism, then Duck and Cover, gang, because Red China should be invading any day now.
    You say you’re just looking out for the “po lil black chillen, ” yet you offer up Garrison Keillor as alternative appetizer for what is already being served. Wrong again, Douglass. Frederick Douglass, you obviously ain’t.
    A Prairie Home Companion meets Compton. Yea, that could work! Are you willing to bet your 401 K on that lesson plan? If so, I’d be thankful for an illegal weapon at school on that day so that I could turn it on myself.
    In fact, you’re correct on one point. It did take engineers to create many necessities such as our national highway system. I-95 is but one arm of this.
    If the South is so flawed (digressive point, I know) as you seem to hint at in your rapidly increasing post count (here and on other topics), then you may consider hopping on that aforementioned modern marvel and travelling it in the reverse direction from which you came. You may still reach us by internet.
    What did reading books do for me, Doug? It gave me proficient enough creative and grammatical skills to make fun of those I disagree with in an almost effortless manner. It gave me words.
    Chaucer, you my boy!

  21. Doug

    You win. Shakespeare is responsible for all that is right in the world. Without him, mankind would cease to exist. Your well-rounded education is simply a perpetuation of the educational assembly line that says, “If it was good enough for my granddaddy, it must be good enough for my children.”
    Nevermind that unless a teacher forcefed you the notion that all that classical stuff was important, I doubt you would have formed that opinion yourself.
    Let me know when you’ve finished your book report on the Bronte sisters. I’m sure it
    will be fabulous!
    You never answered the question as to whether you have kids or not. If not, then get back to me in twenty years when you and
    your wife have sent a few kids through the school system. Let me know whether your kids find the classics, uh, classic.
    But, then, I’m sure your kids (Hecuba and Hamlet) will be spouting soliloquy’s as they exit the womb.
    Figured you would be one of those “if you don’t like it, move back North” neanderthals. I mean, really, that is the answer to any suggestion that comes from someone whose great grandpappy wasn’t born here. I made an attempt to suggest that there’s a model for vocational education that might prove useful in fighting the dropout problem and your classically trained mind instantly saw that it was one of ‘dem Yankee ideas so it must be bad.
    Did you bother to even look at the information or did your rebel yell just kick in automatically? Next time, I’ll remember to whistle Dixie when I’m posting.
    Let me know if you need me to write a you a program to keep count of my posts. You may have to take off your shoes soon to keep up.

  22. David

    I don’t have the answer.
    I also don’t pay attention to the supposed answers from anyone unless they have voluntereed recently and have been a mentor to one of these young people in our schools.
    I won’t waste my time considering the opinions of those that haven’t spent the effort working with these young people.

  23. Capital A

    First, I’m elitist, now I’m stirrin’ spirits in the backyard. Yee-haw!
    Actually, I am the grandson of an OG NC moonshine runner, but I think that adds to the inexplicable, rogueish charm I have with the ladies. Maybe it’s just said spirits…
    I’m glad someone else has as much trouble defining me as I do, myself. It took me reading Heart of Darkness to find some minor clarity concerning that subject.
    Now that we’ve buried the saber, check it out, Doug:) Conrad “speaks” to men concerning their place in a so-called civilized society. In return, I’ll re-peruse The Door in the Floor or another suggested work of your choosing.
    Or just rent the DVD…

  24. Dave

    What amazes me is after the dropouts dropout, there is always a liberal who thinks we all owe the dropout a third and fourth (taxpayer paid) opportunity for an education. This is ridiculous. Someone has to drive the garbage trucks and wash the dishes. Am I wrong?

  25. Mark Whittington

    Maybe you should take out your own garbage and wash your own dishes. Thank God that the type of work that I do sometimes forces me to get my hands dirty. I respect any man who is willing to work. You shouldn’t look down on workers, yet for some reason you feel that you have license to do so. Perhaps you should serve these people that you consider to be inferior.

  26. Dave

    Mark, who is looking down on anyone? People who intentionally throw their educational opportunities away cannot be nuclear engineers or brain surgeons. So, what is left besides welfare or unskilled jobs? The welfare should not be an option as it is for many now.

    What I am saying is that I should not be paying for ridiculous remedial education programs, especially in prisons, for people who dont deserve to be re-educated.

  27. Capital A

    Mark, Knave has a certain caste system he’s laid out for his own private Idaho. Compassion, mercy and understanding don’t suit his paradigm or master plan. They’re both out back in his landfill, buried in a file cabinet marked Weakness.
    Ironically, he probably also put a church on every corner and attends regularly.

  28. Lee

    Dave raises valid points about personal responsibility and the reality of the variations of aptitude, ambition, and various vocations.
    Liberals respond with insults.

  29. Dave

    Lee, that is why they are in the nominal minority in this state and will be through our lifetimes. They get up each morning and it sinks in on them that they live in a conservative state with a GOP governor, Senate, House, and two US Senators. So, their frustration leads them to ignore the facts and resort to juvenile rhetoric.

  30. Paul DeMarco

    I have enjoyed the debate between Doug (the engineer) and Capital A (the English major?). I suspect that they are both products of the public schools (or if not they certainly could be). The reality is that public schools offer a curriculum broad enough that some parts should appeal to just about any child who wants to learn. Doug’s son could succeed by excelling in the sciences without loving Beowulf and Capital’s A’s daughter (this is an assumption-I don’t know that Capital A has a daughter) could succed by excelling in the humanities without loving differential equations. In Marion One, the impoverished rural district that educates my children, there are a reasonable number of AP courses as well as strong programs in art and music. High school students who are more practically inclined may take courses for credit at the tech school ranging from auto repair to culinary arts to entertainment technology. The bulk of the problem isn’t that students can’t find something relevant or interesting to study. The major problem is the lack of family support. Most drop outs have parents who don’t value education, a work ethic, or delayed gratification. Only solutions that address family dysfunction (in particular, single-parent homes) will have a significant impact on the dropout rate (or the crime rate, gang involvement rate, unemployment rate, etc.)

  31. Lee

    Throwing money at education without any result is a lot easier for liberals than criticizing anyone’s behavior: laziness, divorce, bastardy, drug abuse, alcoholism.
    It is impossible to improve educational levels with students who are of low intellect, or came here illegally from some backward country, and have no family home life. White liberals and ethnic group leaders are going to have to admit that their way is a failure, restore morality, stigmatize bad behavior, and join the core American culture.


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