Per today's OD, New York Mills is considering raising the mandatory school attendance age to 17 from the current 16. Supt. Houghton hopes this will get more kids to graduate.
Encouraging more students to graduate is certainly a good thing. The High School Diploma undoubtedly is the ticket that will open many doors in the job market . . . Employers often won't look at prospective employees without one, because they presume that the diploma represents a certain level of competency.
But competency is JUST A PRESUMPTION. How many times have you heard stories about high school and even college graduates who cannot perform basic math or writing tasks? This has become a too common experience for many.
Now NYM wants to force students who would otherwise drop out to stay an extra year. . . . Will it be an extra year of knowledge? . . . or an extra year of group activities? . . . or maybe an extra year of indoctrination? Other than an admission ticket to potential job interviews, what exactly will the student get out of an extra year of school --- and is it worth staying for?
The student is actually in the best position to answer this question because he or she is living the school experience day to day. Sixteen was always thought to be the age where students were capable of making such decisions. Are NYM students different from students elsewhere? Is the school district saying that 16 year old students in NYM are not capable of deciding for themselves?
Students drop out when they do not see value remaining in school. That, in turn, says something about the school district's performance. . . . and it is the reflection on school performance that seems to be what is motivating Ms. Houghton.
Raise the mandatory school age, decrease the drop out rate, and make the school district look better.
However, students who are effectively held against their will often become disruptive, interfering with other students' education. Students who do not see the value in education may need to be out in the "real world" for awhile to appreciate it. . . . and when they do, they will work that much harder when they come back for their GED and actually learn something. Some students learn better outside of the public school system.
NYM should think less about raising the mandatory age, and more about what may be driving its drop out rate.
Put the students, not the school district's reputation, first.