Get it right at the start and you won’t have to worry about the finish. During his recent State of the Union Address the President spoke about mandating that students remain in school until they turn 18 or until they graduate. I am struck with equal parts of terror and rage. We must not abandon our young people – we need to have effective programs and support for all students BUT the time to begin the rescue needs to start much earlier.

Students who are fortunate enough to have a positive (or even a tolerable) school experience do not have to be “forced” into graduating – some support and guidance will help them achieve their goals. Students who have suffered through 10+ years of failed education – ineffective at best but more typically traumatic and damaging – should not be forced to endure two more years of the same, two additional years of this cruel and unusual punishment. If the public schools can’t do the job right at the beginning then I fear many of these students will suffer grave consequences. The teen suicide rate is already way too high and I genuinely fear that a mandate like this will make it worse.

This time and money would be far better invested in early detection of learning differences with effective support and instruction at the elementary level. Only in that way can we change the outcome. “A stitch in time saves nine.”

If a student is interested in the matter at hand they will be more eager to engage. Arts and electives should not be cut in favor of “pure academics”.  Vocational programs should be expanded. Not only do we have an ongoing shortage of skilled workers, but these are areas where some students will find their strengths and passion.

Where education and children are concerned “one size” does not “fit all”.  Let us take a lesson from the Hippocratic Oath and “At least do no harm”.

Submitted by Stephanie Johnston, Landmark School Parent and Architect


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