You can chalk it up to the economy and you won’t be completely wrong, but it’s also not the whole picture. Education is suffering much worse than the banks or the housing market in this country, and that’s a crisis no one is talking about.
We live in a very wealthy county (Montgomery) in which statistics are regularly trotted out to show how well we educate our children. A graduation rate of 80% was cited as being among the top in the country.
The graduation rate is not the dropout rate, which is about 1 of 3 children nationwide. The graduation rate is simply how many students who enter thier senior year graduate at the end of it. 1 of 5 doesn’t make it, and this is cited as a shining example of how well we are doing. Meanwhile, the 33% of teens who never even graduate high school – what are we doing to address them?
I am convinced that small schools such as Thornton hold promise for a new kind of education which we desperately need. That model faces many serious hurdles – including how to be more financially accessible – but it is a generation ahead of our current public model of large, impersonal institutions where teachers are one step away from being replaced by computers and no one sees the devastating loss that represents.
I am still a bit in shock over Thornton, and my heart breaks when I think about the kids and their families, as well as the teachers who (like me) are now part of the unemployment statistic. But I really mourn for all of our children – whether they are being well educated or not – because as a group, they are being criminally under-served. How to face the crises of the next 50 years when one-third of your generation is uneducated?