To try to save his high school, student John Kiefler took an unusual approach this month that revealed both his commitment to the school and his level of desperation.
He contacted Oprah.
“Now I know that because I am a student that had problems in a normal school that if this place closes down that I will have problems getting a diploma,” wrote John, a junior who rides a van 45 minutes north from Milton to Dane County Transition School in Madison.
“I hope you can help us.”
After 15 years of educating students with fragile futures, Transition School itself faces a test of survival.
The publicly funded alternative school is in danger of closing as early as this summer.
“Our school system was set up for a factory model that has not changed in 100 years and it’s growing more and more distant from what we need,” said Deedra Atkinson, United Way of Dane County senior vice president of community building and an Oregon School Board member. Her daughter, Audra, is a graduate of Transition School.
Alternative education programs are part of United Way’s countywide strategy to curb dropout rates, which according to the state Department of Public Instruction ranged from 1 percent in Belleville to 15 percent in Madison during the 2006-07 school year.
“The Factory Model” of Education via Frederick Taylor’s “Scientific Management”. A teacher friend lamented some time ago that we’re still stuck in this model, making sure that our students are in and out of school around the milking and field work schedule….
Dane County Transition School Website.