Some school districts in Indiana have come up with a clever scheme. Apparently, their high school dropout rates are measured by the No Child Left Behind Act. This gives them an interest in reducing their high school dropout rate, because if the high school dropout rate is too high they get penalized.
[Personally, I don’t mind if some kids drop out of high school. School is not good for everyone, and if we dumb down high school so that everyone can pass it, then pretty soon everyone will need a college degree just to prove that they have functioning brain cells. Meanwhile, adulthood will get pushed farther and farther out.]
Anyhow, to reduce their high school dropout rate, they decided to force high school drop-outs to register as “homeschoolers,” and require them to come under the home education laws. This scheme is reported by the Home School Legal Defense Association here. This has one of two bad effects:
1. The school districts in Indiana are extending the compulsory education age beyond what is required by law, and are thus breaking the law.
The laws in Indiana allow a student to drop out of school at a certain age. Kids do this all the time, for some good reasons (i.e., they are not suited to school, or perhaps there is a family need), and many bad reasons. You are still allowed to be stupid in the USA, and dropping out of high school is one great way to exercise this privilege. If a kid drops out of school, that means he is allowed to stop being educated. Or in many cases he simply transfers his education to “The School of Hard Knocks,” which has many famous and distinguished graduates, such as The Prodigal Son. Once the kid has learned what options are available to a high-school dropout, he will often decide to get a bit more education.
2. Secondly, their scheme is also giving home schoolers a bad name. High school dropouts, by definition, don’t want any more education. Homeschoolers do want to learn, but in a non-traditional setting. To call these two groups by the same name is slanderous. Pretty soon, all of the 17 year old home schooled kids will have to say, “No, I really am a student, I’m not a drop-out.” Teenagers have enough trouble without adding the burden of explaining themselves to the MacDonald’s hiring manager, the Army recruiter, and the college admissions officer.
The high school dropouts will also have test scores that are way lower than the test scores of real homeschoolers. So when someone who has done badly in the public schools for 10 years suddenly becomes a “homeschooler”, that kid will now be used as evidence that “homeschooling doesn’t work.” Isn’t that special?
The Home School Legal Defense Association is urging homeschoolers to reach out to those wannabe dropouts to help them adjust to this situation. Personally, I think that someone needs to take action to affirm their right to drop out of school. Compulsory education has its limits, and these limits should not be pushed by some school district trying to make its numbers look better.