High school in America is dead.
Every year we delay replacing it with a better plan for secondary schooling, we’re allowing its failed approach to limit the quality of life for future generations.
Our high school system lost its vital signs years ago, i.e.: its ability to prepare students to live independent, contributing lives. The public is largely unaware of this situation, only because school leaders have been willing to take extreme measures to spin the truth and withhold information (think Atlanta).
Improving traditional high school must start with eliminating the 11th and 12th grades. No other developed country keeps all its students in a generic, directionless program until they’re 18. The last two years of traditional high school primarily serve to abnormally extend adolescence, and introduce a variety of deviant social behaviors into our children’s lives.
Eliminating the last two years of high school would also remove the redundant overlap with the first two years of college. It would allow all students to begin community college or tech/voc programs no later than 16, and thus turn 18 with either half of a bachelors degree or fully trained for a well-paying tech career.
What would happen to high school graduation? It would (and has) become as irrelevant as completing sixth grade. Over 60% of this year’s graduating seniors have skills too low to qualify for college-level classes. 1 This is because we’ve convinced students that merely completing 12th grade is a pinnacle achievement. Take away this misconception. Install a school program that would help students see the years between 16 and 18 as beginning – not ending steps in their lifelong training for good careers, and the achievement level would spike immediately.
A new and improved high school program would stop the mindless counseling that every student should enroll at a four-year university. 54% of recent college graduates are either unemployed or under-employed at jobs that require no degree at all, and owe $29,000 in college debt. Contrast this with the average community college grad finishing a tech certification program, who leaves school owing less than one-third of that amount, and a higher paying job. 2, 3, 4, 5
A more effective approach to high school would not reduce suspensions and expulsions, but would bring back tougher-than-ever discipline standards. No student can be taught meaningful academics or employable behavior in campus environments that annually produce 209,000 teacher assaults, 1.3 million violent student-on student attacks, and allow 135,000 guns on campus every day. 6, 7, 8
The high school program we urgently need would disband Special Education in its current form, and re-think how – and if to proceed. At its inception, Special Ed was a reasonable idea: offering additional instructional services to the small number of severely disabled children. Just 40 years later, it’s become a bloated, child-damaging bureaucracy. Using pseudo-scientific diagnoses, Special Education has now convinced 13% of America’s future work force that they’re permanently damaged: offering these trusting children a reason for failing, rather than a way to succeed…for the rest of their lives! 9
A re-invented plan for high school would accept the axiom: “You can’t teach what you don’t know”, and therefore remove any school leaders who lacked the moral courage to enforce strong values on their campuses. In other words, all of them would have to go.
High schools have become devoid of moral values. They refuse to take a stand against promiscuity, even though an average of 40% (and growing) of high school students are sexually active, have multiple sex partners, and over 50% of newly reported cases of STD’s occur within this age group. 10 They won’t drug test students, even though 20% show up in class every day under the influence of a controlled substance. 11 The 80% cheating rate by students has made transcripts almost meaningless 12 but administrators claim they can’t address this cheating issue due to a lack of time. Another possible explanation is that school leaders are morally conflicted regarding cheating. (Surely, no one believes that Atlanta is the only school district practicing it on a large scale?)
Nowhere is the moral collapse of our defunct high school system more apparent than in its inability to reverse the disproportionate failure of Black students. Lacking the moral courage to tell the truth about this issue, educators have pandered exhaustively to Black parents and activists, who blame this problem on a lack of all things Black: teachers, curriculum, and race-sensitive behavioral standards. All these solutions have been tried. None of them have worked. It’s because none of them address the real cause of the problem: out of wedlock rates. The school and social success of every race correlates to its out-of-wedlock statistics. Children who receive poorer and/or less parenting behave worse and learn less in school. Period. The out-of-wedlock rate for Black students ranges from 10% to 400% higher than other races. All these other races outperform Black children in school – and will continue to do so, until we find school leaders who care enough about the issue to address the real cause. 13
A different but equally compelling reason for reorganizing high school, is that it could be funded for 50% less than is currently being spent. To accomplish this, half of a school’s students would attend a four-hour block of morning academic classes, and have part-time jobs and career-quality internships in the afternoons. The other half of the students would have the reverse schedule. This plan would require only half as many teachers, who would still work a normal 8-hour day and see the same number of students as with traditional scheduling. Campus crowding would also be reduced by half, and our students would leave high school with a developed work ethic.
The only thing our nation would stand to lose by trying this new approach to high school, is our ranking as the 26th best school system in the world.
1) Percentage of high school graduates not qualifying for college classes.
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education – June 2010 “Beyond the Rhetoric: Improving College Readiness Through Coherent State Policy”
“Diploma to Nowhere” – The Broad Foundation – (date?)
U.S. News & World Report: July 3, 2014 – “How to Fix America’s College Remediation issue” (percentages plus this statement:“…many states can’t (won’t) pinpoint how many students need remediation”)
Also: numerous online reports by individual states, setting their remediation rate at 50% – 75%
2) Percentage of recent college grads underemployed or unemployed
The Associated Press 4/23/12 “Half of recent college grads underemployed or jobless analysis says”
3) Average amount of student debt of graduating seniors
CNN Money: 12/5/13 “Average Student Loan Debt $29,400
4) Community College Tech Grads Earn More than University Grads
Community College Review.com: 3/20/15 “Community Colleges vs. State Schools: Which One Results in Higher Salaries?”
5) Commun. College Tech Grads finish school with one-fourth the amount of debt
The Simple Dollar. Com 4/9/15 “Why You Should Consider Trade School Instead of College”
6) Assaults on teachers
CNSnews.com 6/10/14 “Student Attacks on Teachers up 34.5% to 209,800”
7) Student on Student Violent Attacks
National Center for Ed. Statistics – 2014 “School Crime – Fast Facts
8) Number of guns brought to school every day
National Education Association Health Information Network
“School Safety”: 6/17/05
9) Percent of children in Special Education
National Center for Ed. Statistics 2013 “Students with Disabilities”
10) Amount of STD’s
Live Science.com: 10/6/14 “Hiden Epidemic: 110 million STD Infections in U.S.”
11) Number of Students on Campus Under the Influence
Newstimes.com : 3/23/12 “More teens using drugs at school, study shows”
12) Student Cheating
Plagiarism.org: 2014 – “Facts & Stats: Academic Integrity in High School”
Stanford University Academic Cheating Fact Sheet – Winter Quarter 2015
Study.com: 6/29/11 “75 to 98% of College Students Have Cheated”
13) Out of Wedlock Rates and Correlation with School Performance
The National Review – 10/11/13 “Latest Statistics on Out of Wedlock Births”
National Center for Ed. Statistics May 2014 “Public High School Graduation Rates”
The Center for Civil Rights Remedies “Nationwide Suspension Rates for U.S. Schools 2011 – 2012”
(note: the high-to-low rankings, by race, for out-of-wedlock births, suspensions, and failure to graduate from high school are the same)
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author and are not not necessarily either shared or endorsed by iPatriot.com.