“15% of high schools produce half the nation’s 1.2 million drop-outs.” This stat from Thursday’s Summer Seminar for teachers hit me hard.
The challenge is not just that a lot of kids aren’t going to college. Many are not even graduating from high school.
As a teacher of first generation college-bound students who struggle to stay in school, I know that by the time our students enroll in the 9th grade, many think college “is for the other kids.”
As a Teaching Ambassador Fellow, I came to Washington, DC to give input into the very education policies that will ensure more students like mine finish high school and graduate from college and to inform other teachers about those policies.
One of my first experiences with policy 101 began with “Summer Seminars at Six,” a series of evening primers on education policy for local teachers.
During Thursday night’s seminar on the topic “Fixing What’s Broken in No Child Left Behind,” I listened as three former teachers, now working at ED, discussed the differences between NCLB and President Obama’s Blueprint for Reform, specifically addressing high drop-out rates and college-readiness.
“If an incoming freshman class of 30 represented America… four years later, only 23 will graduate high school… of those only 15 will enroll in post-secondary education immediately following graduation… and only 9 will earn a 2 or 4 year post-secondary degree before age 27,” said Margaret Young. As a long-time public educator myself, I bristle when I see these numbers.
The Blueprint for Reform proposes several substantive changes to NCLB, including innovative programs to develop and support teachers and programs to help turn-around our nation’s persistently lowest achieving schools.
The most tangible thing to date, however, has been the recent changes to the FAFSA, which have significantly streamlined a painful financial aid application process, making it much easier for my students to apply to college.
To learn more about the fourth and final Summer Seminar, Leading Their Profession: Teachers and Education Policy, click here.
Claire Jellinek is a 9th-12th grade social studies teacher at South Valley Academy in Albuquerque, NM and a 2011-2012 Washington Teaching Ambassador Fellow.