All the people participating already knew that dropping out is a bad idea. He needed to invite those prison inmates, those who are unemployed, and those in poverty for the input about what would have been most helpful to have met their needs when they were in school. That’s where the answers are.
My own middle school once held annual forums with our students who had gone on to high school, and we purposely wanted to talk, not with just the A-students, but with the C students and the D-minus students. We asked them what we as a middle school could have done better in hopes of finding insights for our continual improvement.
A teacher or counselor can make his/her best “argument” to a young person that his/her life will be more successful if he/she stays in school, but that young person may drop out anyway. We need that person’s input by hindsight as to what we all could have done better in the face of what the rest of us see as common sense but, nevertheless, led to a decision for which that dropout was still on his/her own responsibility.
Bennett further cites that Indiana is “raising the bar for every student” through academic standards. While we must always analyze what we expect our students to learn and continuously try to measure their success, raising standards for the sake of raising standards will not save students who are failing in school. That would be akin to requiring students to pass a test on algebra who haven’t learned to multiply and divide or requiring students with limited English or learning disabilities to test at the same standards at a chonological age while saying we need, as Bennett said, “targeted, individualized improvement plans for these students.”
There seems to be a contradiction here. The state has an ISTEP test that it keeps tweaking and changing, giving little comparison to previous results although those comparisons are made anyway and schools are graded in an apples-and-oranges world. Give the test some time.