Grabbing Dropouts Early

Jay Matthews:

I am an optimist, maybe too much of one. I believe, for instance, that our school dropout problem in many instances takes care of itself. Often teenagers leave school because they just cannot bear sitting in class. Eventually they mature, return to school, graduate and have productive lives. Data show that of the 30 percent of students who do not graduate on time, about half have acquired high school diplomas or General Educational Development certificates (GED) by their late 20s.
Many people find my congenital sunniness on this and other issues annoying. My wife, who married me nearly 42 years ago, has always called me “the Pollyanna From Hell.” She might have a point. Optimism can lead to error. For instance, I have found a impressive new report on dropouts that suggests my laissez faire attitude toward the issue might keep many young people from being yanked back into school in ways that would do them good.