Does President Obama care about High School Dropouts?
If you came to this blog article looking for a complaint list or diatribe against President Obama, you won’t find it here. But what you will find is concrete advice for the President on helping high school dropouts. Advice that he can take with a minimal amount of money from the budget.
And of course, the President cares about every American, but he could certainly do more for high school dropouts, with or without Congressional approval.
President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Speech and High School Dropouts
Here’s a quotation from President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Speech regarding high school dropouts:
Think about it. Over the next 10 years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school education. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren’t even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to ninth in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us — as citizens, and as parents — are willing to do what’s necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.
Nice words but perhaps not concrete enough with practical steps to alleviate the problem.
Being Proactive: Reduce the Dropout Rate
As I wrote earliar, President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are working on the high school dropout problem. Visit this link.
In Pamela Gentry’s article of March 2010 with the title President Tackles National Drop Out Rate she wrote:
The Obama Administration is committing $3.5 billion to help transform low-performing schools; the Department of Education’s School Turnaround Grants would be awarded to support interventions for 5,000 of the worst schools in the nations; and an additional $900 million would go toward School Turnaround Grants to increase the number of schools that can improve.
I haven’t heard much about this effort in the national media. I wish President Obama had briefly mentioned his progress with this endeavor in his 2011 State of the Union speech.
Being Reactive: Three Steps to Help High School Dropouts that won’t cost Billions of Dollars
Certainly, significantly reducing the high school dropout rate in this country would be a wonderful step. But in the meantime, can’t we find a way to help the 7000 teenagers who dropout of high school every day in the U.S.? Can we find a way to help the millions of high school dropouts pass the GED? Here’s a few suggestions.
Let’s Keep Track of Our High School Dropouts, Voluntary but not Mandatory
Statistics and names are kept of people who pass the GED test. So, state by state, we know how many people took the GED test, passed it, or failed it.
But we don’t keep track of high school dropouts.
Many high schools quietly acknowledge this problem of tracking but have no intention of trying to keep statistics. A student drops out of one school but might go to another high school they would argue. Keeping statistics cost money. And quite frankly, if a school system has dropout factories, what incentive do they have of actually keeping track of how bad their schools are statistically?
If you don’t keep track of high school dropouts by name and email (yes, I said email) how can you do outreach for them? If the federal government has a work/GED program in Denver, CO, how can they notify Colorado dropouts of that opportunity if they don’t have emails? Yes, many high school dropouts don’t have email. We’ll take care of that in time. But for now, can’t we keep track of high school dropouts? Here’s how:
Build an email database that can handle thousands to millions of people who want to be notified of opportunities to learn and pass the GED. This isn’t unthinkable. I believe I could do it for $5 million a year. I just checked the Internet and found an email service that will house an email service for 50,000 people for under $200 per month.
If we don’t keep track of our high school dropouts (voluntarily, of course), how will we reach out to them with information on GED programs and opportunities?
Loosen the U.S. Army Entrance Requirements to Include the GED
7000 young people dropout of high school every day. I wonder how many of them (both men and women) think that if jobs are hard to find they can always join the U.S. Army. Too bad they’re wrong.
- The U.S. Army does not want high school dropouts. If you’re still in high school, just visit an Army recruiter and ask them if they’ll enlist you if you drop out of high school. They won’t.
- The U.S. Army really isn’t too interested in GED graduates either. Below is a direct quote from the U.S. Army website regarding enlisting in the U.S. Army with a GED.
The Army is not accepting people with a GED in most areas of the country, however, the Army reserves the right to waive certain disqualifications and allow enlistment if deemed in the best interest of the individual and the service. If you will only need a waiver for the GED, it is highly likely that you will be accepted. Please note that when the Army did accept a GED, they were required to score at least 50 on the ASVAB.
There are some drawbacks to enlisting with a GED, such as not being eligible for bonuses. If you have 15 college credit hours under your belt, you will be eligible for bonuses. Also, upon reaching 30 college semester hours, no waiver is needed for the GED.
In plain English, the U.S. Army will consider accepting you as a recruit if you have a GED and 30 college semester hours. So the U.S. Army doesn’t want high school dropouts and isn’t very interested in recruits with a GED? Why? The U.S. Army wants recruits that are trainable and who will finish their term of enlistment, and beyond. High school dropouts tend to try to drop out of the Army. And high school graduates have a better retention rate than GED recruits. So if you’re the U.S. Army, wouldn’t you want at least a high school graduate.
And the U.S. Army has the easiest recruitment standards so don’t even think of trying to join the Navy, Marines, or Air Force as a high school dropout (or GED).
It’s true, in the U.S. Army, high school graduates have a better retention rate than GED recruits who have a better retention rate than high school dropouts. But President Obama could change some of this.
Yes, it’s true, recruits with a GED are a “mixed bet” as steady recruits completing their term of service. But not even considering someone with a GED for the U.S. Army unless they have 30 college credit hours is excessive. The President can and should relax the recruitment requirements for recruits with a GED. Don’t you agree?
Prohibit Federally Funded Job Programs from Avoiding High School Dropouts
In my blog article Federal Job Programs Discriminate Against Dropouts I described how some organizations avoid recruiting high school dropouts for federal job training programs. This is a quote of mine shown below:
The people who administer federal job training programs in your town or city need to obey federal guidelines for running their program. The people who run local job training programs with federal money want to keep the money coming in, and keep their jobs. So local job training program administrators want to recruit people who will successfully finish job training, get a new job, and keep a new job.
Job training administrators want to keep their jobs, so they would rather not recruit high school dropouts. They prefer high school graduates or better. Tough world, but that’s what I learned today.
The President clearly could influence or control federal funded job programs. Some job training program administrators avoid recruiting high school dropouts because they tend to perform worse than high school graduates in job training programs. It makes sense but it’s not right.
Choosing not to enlist high school dropouts in job training programs because they are educationally weak is like not admitting sick patients to a hospital. It makes no sense at all.
President Obama and High School Dropouts
As an Independent and a Chicagoan, I voted for President Obama in 2008. So this is certainly not a laundry list of complaints to our President. This blog article is just plain, simple advice on getting the job done. If President Obama really cares about high school dropouts, he might consider the concrete proposals in this blog article.