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Dropping Out in LAUSD

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Here's an AP story about Jefferson High in Los Angeles, one of the worst schools in a very bad school system. Jefferson as a 58 percent dropout rate.

Last year, the district launched a $200,000 marketing campaign to convince kids school is worthwhile.

Promos on hip-hop radio, cell phone text messages, a MySpace Web site and You Tube videos hammered home that graduates earn an average of $175 more weekly than dropouts followed by the message: "Get your diploma."

Administrators are evaluating if the ads were successful, but the campaign sparked interest across the country, inspiring a similar program in New York City public schools.

One of the most effective ways of keeping kids in school is simple—home visits, which the district has been doing for years. The visits are now conducted by "diploma project advisers," guidance counselors who work with dropout-risk students.

More here.

Milton Friedman, the father of the school choice movement, talked to reason about how important education is to a vibrant, meritocratic society that minimizes castes.

Here's a great Drew Carey video on how a Southern California school turned around by introducing choice and competition into a totally stultifying bureaucracy:

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  1. These drop out statistics are very misleading. For example, Little Bit is considered a drop out from Plano ISD in Texas but she was a transfer from high school to a community college. She liked the campus of the community college better than the high school drama so I let her change course. She was considered a transfer student to her current school- no high school diploma needed.

  2. I don’t see how school choice is relevant to this issue. These students are dropping out because they and their parents don’t care enough to stick it through. Allowing them to choose which school they drop out of isn’t going to make it less likely that they drop out. Private schools have lower dropout rate because of a selection bias. Their populations are quite different from public school populations.

  3. It’s all pretty curious. A graduation rate of 58%, and a transience rate of 57%.

    Furthermore, the problem students seem to be mainly gang members, who may be the least transient students.

    This sounds to me more like a problem as the result of compulsory education. As long as the school is wasting resources dealing with problem gangsters, kids and families with any desire whatsoever to learn have every incentive to move on. The result is Jefferson High turns into the babysitter for non-achievers it’s designed to be.

  4. What?!?! The “Stay In School” t-shirts aren’t working?!?!

    Maybe we need cool hip-hop videos. That’ll keep ’em in for sure. They drop out, see, because they don’t like our current commercials.

  5. Last year, the district launched a $200,000 marketing campaign to convince kids school is worthwhile.

    These morons probably wail about being underfunded every year too. I wish I had 200k lying around for a bullshit marketing campaign.

  6. Mo is entirely correct: this has nothing whatsoever to do with public vs. private schooling, and everything to do with parents who don’t give a shit.

    And I wish we’d stop confusing the issue by calling a school where none of the kids or parents give a shit a “failing school”. There’s a lot more here that’s failing than the school.

    Finally, as with “underage” drinking, a little observation of how they do stuff in other countries would go a looooong way towards solving this problem. The notion that every child must succumb to twelve years of roughly identical education is uniquely American–and leads to lots of Americans sitting around on their ass, untrained to do anything worthwhile.

  7. The stupidity of libruhtarians continues to amaze. “Choice” isn’t going to do much good, the problem goes much deeper than that. The problem could be somewhat reduced by reducing IllegalImmigration, but various types of crooks – including the mayor and those businesses who profit and their advocates – can’t have that. The smart libertarian might see this as an example of privatizing the profits and socializing the costs; could someone ping the smart libertarian to this thread? Also, please ping Steve Sailer so he can explain this better than I can.

  8. Leave it to LW to inject his completely irrelevant obsession into the mix. Sigh.

  9. I read this on Friday and wonder today whether or not it matters for kids to stay in school anymore. (Yes, I realize it’s a different state.) An excerpt:

    Dallas public school students who flunk tests, blow off homework and miss assignment deadlines can make up the work without penalty, under new rules that have angered many teachers.

    The new rules will be distributed when teachers return to their campuses next week. But many who have already seen the regulations say they are too lenient on slackers, and will come at the expense of kids who work hard.

    For example, the new rules require teachers to accept late work and prevent them from penalizing students for missed deadlines. Homework grades that would drag down a student’s overall average will be thrown out.

  10. Let’s all go to the article
    Let’s all go to the article
    And learn something

    A quarter-century ago, Latino students totaled 31 percent of the student body; now they account for almost 90 percent.

    Libruhtarians should spend the next ten minutes trying to figure out where they came from.

    Then, they should spend a couple hours trying to figure out whose interests are served, and where the money’s flowing from and to.

    Then, they should take their naps.

  11. Rhywun says: “this has nothing whatsoever to do with public vs. private schooling, and everything to do with parents who don’t give a shit.”

    Agree…somewhat. I would sugguest the possibility that parents might be a bit more involved in their kids schooling if they had some choice (the more the better, IMHO) rather than the state standardized one size fits all.

    Perhaps?

  12. Homework grades that would drag down a student’s overall average will be thrown out.

    I’d have done much better in high school using that method. I’ve always good at test taking. I was a slacker regarding homework.

  13. Perhaps of members of G.I Joe parachuted into the schoolyard to teach the kids important life lessons…

  14. I would sugguest the possibility that parents might be a bit more involved in their kids schooling if they had some choice (the more the better, IMHO) rather than the state standardized one size fits all.

    Look, I’m pro school choice, but this makes no sense. If anything, these types of parents are the kind that would just go for the default. If they don’t care whether or not their kid graduates, why would they care what school they go to?

  15. It’s sort of the idea that not only can you lead a horse to water, but you can make him drink, too.

    Yeah, I’m pretty skeptical that somehow choice would turn this school around. A significant portion who can leave, do. A significant portion of the remainders simply don’t give a fuck. The problems of Jeff High likely have less to do with public schooling than with the population it serves.

  16. As Orange Line correctly notes, the high drop out rate is because the students are Mexican.

    And implementing “school choice” will increase the drop out rate (wrap your bong-addled brain around that one, Gellespie).

    “One of the most effective ways of keeping kids in school is simple-home visits, which the district has been doing for years. The visits are now conducted by “diploma project advisers,” guidance counselors who work with dropout-risk students.”

    Libertarians oppose this sort of costly, intrusive, nanny-statism, don’t they?

  17. Rhywun | August 19, 2008, 12:36pm | #

    Mo is entirely correct: this has nothing whatsoever to do with public vs. private schooling, and everything to do with parents who don’t give a shit.

    But isn’t that why it does have to do with public vs. private schooling? Isn’t that the very factor that contributes so heavily to the problem? Hypothetical: I’m one parent in 25 who cares about his kids education. When I go to the school, I see a zoo where teachers don’t care, parents don’t care and a campus run by gang-bangers. Why can’t I be given some tool to pull my kid out of class and put him in a private school? I’m thinking of a voucher system– or maybe a charter school or some such thing?

    In these situations, the one parent out of 25 is probably living in a poor neighborhood, and are lacking in resources themselves. Why doom them to the same fate as the 24 other kids simply because the public school system forces him or her into that school or district?

    Even if we can never agree on a public vs. private compromise, can we at least agree that public school systems need major reforms to minimize the collateral effects felt by the few students who do have parents that care?

  18. Perhaps of members of G.I Joe parachuted into the schoolyard to teach the kids important life lessons…

    I was lucky enough to have my actual dad around. Otherwise, Beachhead might have been the best possible role model/father figure available.

    , the high drop out rate is because the students are Mexican

    You bigots astound me (or whatever the opposite of being astounded is). Ever notice that the dropout rates among poorer Americans are higher than for middle-class or upper-class people regardless of the ethnicity of those involved? Even though the drop-out rates for Hispanics is apparently higher than for any other ethnic group, you may want to think about subcultures and how they may or may not hew along economic lines before making blanket statements of this sort.

    Here

  19. Hispanics, however, have a much higher dropout rate than their peers at both low- and middle-income levels”

    And importantly, as these bigots document, the drop out rate persists over time, as does the poverty, something everyone but libertarianoids seems to be aware of:

    “The study contains some encouraging findings, but many more that are troubling. Linguistically, Mexican Americans assimilate into mainstream America quite well-by the second generation, nearly all Mexican Americans achieve English proficiency. In many domains, however, the Mexican American story doesn’t fit with traditional models of assimilation. The majority of fourth generation Mexican Americans continue to live in Hispanic neighborhoods, marry other Hispanics, and think of themselves as Mexican. And while Mexican Americans make financial strides from the first to the second generation, economic progress halts at the second generation, and poverty rates remain high for later generations. Similarly, educational attainment peaks among second generation children of immigrants, but declines for the third and fourth generations.”

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