Graduate or Turn 18

I’ve debated on wether I should post this for a day or so, beings I’m an Education major and someone important might run across this someday. But this has been on my mind too often to not post it.
So it looks like the the Nebraska Legislative is going to pass some legislation that raises the drop-out age of our youth from 16 to 18. I know that our President has spoke on this topic and how he feels legislation of this kind is so important to our youth. Being an education major, I thought I should write about this. I’ve had courses on development in the Family Studies Department so I approach this issue different than I maybe would have say-two years ago. 
On the surface this law looks beneficial. Requiring all kids to stay in school until they graduate or are 18. Kids in adolescence are testing out their decision making skills and many times we are less than impressed with said skills. Their impulsivity frightens and makes us wonder how they will ever get out of adolescence alive. I feel like I can safely say that I’m out of that stage. But mandating such a law doesn’t fit for every situation. Take the Amish for example, I know Nebraska isn’t known for their Amish communities but the Amish have their children graduate school at the end of the eighth grade. At that time they go into their communities and learn the vocation that will be their life’s work. The Amish had to go to court to fight the 16 year old drop out law. And they won. I’m just saying that grouping everyone together and mandating stuff like this is a recipe for trouble.
Of course I believe that education is important and it would be nice if there was no such thing as a drop out rate. Thomas Jefferson wrote about how essential some educational degree is when he stated that it helps citizens to “participate effectively and intelligently in our open political system if we are to preserve freedom and independence.” It is suppose to help individuals be self-reliant and self-sufficient members of society.
I guess what bugs me about the whole situation is how we think that such a simplistic idea is going to solve the drop out problem. There are so many reasons why a student decides to drop out but I would be willing to bet that if you asked them it would boil down to them being uninvolved and unengaged. So if we take a look at these reasons I really think it becomes less of a drop out problem and more of a school, and teacher problem, they are the ones failing the kids, they are not engaging them in learning. We have too many standards to meet and not enough time to engage them in something that they might actually like and use, we are not valuing every child's interest and potential. Because let’s be honest, an Amish kid who is going to join the fold doesn’t need to know calculous, either do most of us, and it doesn’t make us any lesser for not knowing it. We do need to know how to think critically, and from what I’m hearing in class we need more basic human physiology...
We have made public education a “One Size Fits All” institution and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sameness doesn’t = Fair. Heck Sameness doesn’t = Equal. I really love this quote I heard once “Being fair does not mean treating everyone the same it means making sure everyone gets what they need.” Are we making sure every child is getting what they need or are we so concerned with treating everyone the same that so many kids are slipping through the cracks? They are entering the world knowing how to fill in bubbles on standardized tests and sit still. And we wonder why we are falling behind compared to the rest of the globe. It’s perfectly clear to me why this form of education isn’t right for everyone. Sometimes when I think about it, I can’t blame kids for  dropping out. This bothers me, doesn’t it you? 
By making this kind of legislation we are ignoring the real problem. We are putting a band aide on it and hoping that it just goes away. That kids will be 18 and graduating in a few months so they will just finish. Is that really how we want our kids going through school? The drop out problem is being chalked up to kids being immature and bad decision makers that can’t see the benefits of the education, which may have a sliver of truth to it but there are bigger issues. We are pointing at the children and saying they are the ones with the problems when really I think it’s the system that has the problem, and has had one for quite a while. The legislation is coming from a behavioristic point of view. We have changed the circumstances so now the individual will change. All it will take is one kid saying “I don’t care, I’m dropping out.” and your theory has been blown out of the water. Because you haven’t solved the problem, you’ve just glossed over it. Why aren’t we trying to engage our youth more? Make the world the classroom-not just the one building. Make them feel valued and at the very least, tolerate school, not be mandated to go until their 18th birthday. Over-haul the system and maybe we can try to fix the damage that’s been done. 
I have another question though, what the heck are you supposed to do with the 16 year old who wants to drop out but can’t for two more years? When they are counting down the days and failing their classes just waiting for that birthday? Riddle me that people in the capital. 



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