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Volume IV, Number 4, April, 2006

A Nation of Dropouts?

One Time Magazine cover this month announced what many of us have been warning about for years now. TIME Magazine Archive Article -- "Dropout Nation" -- April 17, 2006

We have a HUGE dropout problem and it is getting worse.

While the Time piece is welcome, the reporters pay far too little attention to the dropout and pushout consequences of Bush education policies in states like Texas that have used high stakes testing combined with bribery of school administrators in ways that have provided incentives for mistreatment of children and what one writer has called "educational triage." It fails to note the impact of NCLB on the drop out problem.

Let them play pool?

The approach to schooling encouraged by NCLB's narrow definitions of learning condemns many children to a future of low-skilled employment and a life without prospects.

The draconian strategies of NCLB/Helter-Skelter have been leaving millions of children behind, robbing them of a real education and pushing many of them (30% according to Time) out on the street before graduation where they can join illegal immigrants and others working at terrible wages in the bottom of the economic system.

NCLB actually rewards schools for getting rid of poorly performing students.

Time leaves unmentioned the cheap labor benefits of schooling that fails so many children and fixes no reponsibility on those members of Congress, the President and corporate leaders who welcome opportunities to short change workers by supporting minimal pay and indecent working conditions. It does, however, mention that it is very hard for dropouts to find jobs because many jobs are moving overseas or being taken by immigrants.

. . . the latest group is immediately relegated to the most punishing sector of the economy, where whatever low-wage jobs haven't yet moved overseas are increasingly filled by even lower-wage immigrants.
Flipping Burgers?

Send me your non-readers to mop my floors, flip my burgers and shoulder the least desirable jobs of the nation.

Do not teach them to think or ask questions.

Make sure they learn to follow orders without challenging authority.

As with much of what is written about schools these days, the dropout problem is usually blamed on schools that fail to inspire or nurture students, but Time fails to identify the deadening impact of NCLB on the school experience of many of our children, especially those who start life at the bottom of our society without privilege, decent health care, adequate housing or good nutrition.

The blame game goes on while the very harmful strategies built into NCLB worsen the dropout problem and condemn millions of young people to a kind of low wage slavery that is unworthy of this nation.

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Words at the base of the Statue of Liberty welcoming newcomers to our land.

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

Stirring words when honored.

These days they might be revised to match current realities . . .

"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses so I can put them to work in the sweat shops and low paying jobs of our nation, paying them under the table and condemning them to a life of bare survival, harsh conditions and homelessness, fueling an economy that serves the rich and the powerful."

© 2006, Jamie McKenzie, all rights reserved. This article may be e-mailed to individuals by individuals, but all other duplication, distribution, publication and use is prohibited without first receiving explicit permission. Contact for information.