There’s no one solution for keeping kids in school

Nov 9, 2013 by

Robert Belous –

Seeing a classroom full of 4-year-olds learning the alphabet, singing songs about colors and drawing stick-figure family portraits gives me hope about the class of 2027. Detroit Public Schools’ plan to educate more pre-K students, add more art and music to its elementary schools and engage parents is an excellent way to ensure that more students make it to graduation day.

It’s one of several approaches educators and leaders in the Great Lakes State should be proud of. Such foresight has led to more rigorous graduation requirements to better prepare students for higher education. It’s also led to emphasizing Career and Technical Education to outfit students with the skills they need to enter the work force and find living-wage jobs that keep Michigan’s economy strong. And Michigan’s 76% high school graduation rate shows that many students are leaving the state’s schools prepared for what comes next.

But that number also means thousands of students are being left behind. Between 2007 and 2011 alone, more than 88,000 students dropped out of Michigan schools, according to the Michigan League for Public Policy. We simply are battling at the margins in the war to end the dropout crisis.

I was the student that everyone thought would fail, but a teacher in my sophomore year took an interest in me and showed me I mattered. After seven years in the Navy, I became a teacher serving at-risk students and then an administrator. I became somewhat of a turnaround specialist, having successfully improved some of Michigan’s worst schools in the Flint and Detroit areas. In the 25 years I’ve been in the fight, I’ve learned many things. But the one lesson that I learn over and over again is this: There is no single solution to solving the dropout epidemic.

We don’t need two or three good ideas, we need as many solutions as there are reasons why students drop out.

via Robert Belous: There’s no one solution for keeping kids in school | Detroit Free Press |

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