I just spoke with a teenager this afternoon. I'll call her Isis. She's a Senior at our local public high school. Since school just started this week and she knows I want to make sure she's on the right track, she called to give me an update.
Isis is an A/B student. Isis and I talked last year about her education. As a junior, Isis was being encouraged by her school to go to Job Corps. I'm no expert, but my understanding is that Job Corps is geared more for those students who need alternative avenues to getting an education and a job. But Isis is an A/B student! She has family issues, as many kids do, but she is perfectly capable of finishing high school and getting a post-secondary education. The Job Corps recruiter encouraged her by letting her know that Job Corps pays a person to attend (whereas high school does not). As with almost any other kid from an impoverished background, Isis was lured by that offer. Right or wrong, I encouraged Isis to finish high school and discouraged Job Corps.
Today, she called to tell me about her senior year classes. The school told her she needed to sign up for Co-op. I remain skeptical over this ploy to put kids in our neighborhood in the service sector without providing them with adequate choices. The reason Isis said she signed up for co-op is because there are no other elective classes available except for gym, office assistant, and things like that. Granted, the other four classes she is taking are things like Economics, AP Biology, and a few others. But what about those other electives that help students prepare for college?
Although I have a hard time believing a school would only provide enough classes for students to complete 3 1/2 years of school, most of the students I know are opting out of a full day their senior year. Some of them are even taking a few summer classes their junior year so they don't have to attend a senior year.
This seems like a huge deficiency in our system. Our world is changing so fast today that four years of high school is too little...not too much! ...Especially for our kids and teenagers who don't have the access to the latest educational and technological devices in their homes or in their communities.
Check this out in your own community. I would be interested to hear if this is an issue in other areas as well. Whether it is or not, I think we should speak up and speak out for all students. It takes education and knowledge for our children to move forward. Everyone deserves the opportunity to obtain that knowledge.