Is High School disintegrating?
I don’t think so. And yet, we know it’s the education sector most often mentioned as needing substantial change.
Mention high school to business leaders and it’s not uncommon to hear them say, “throw it out”. And increasingly, students are throwing parts or all of it out. Before she’d even left elementary, my niece was already assured that she’d leave high school early to collect college credits. Both nephews spent half of their last two years in classes at the nearby community college. It’s an accelerating trend.
Charter or community schools have also been taking increasing numbers of students from the larger public schools. Meanwhile, we’re told that ‘gifted’ students and ‘hands-on’ students alike are not being well-served. And, as we’ve mentioned, over half of Black young men still leave high school before they are done.
Should sending young people to college early be the standard approach? Should community college be de facto mandatory for the other half? There are plenty of reasons to say no, no it shouldn’t. Not if we can find ways to make high school itself the center of much-improved learning.
We have some tools and ideas here to put lots more high quality learning in amongst the high school walls themselves.
Let’s work together to reinvent participatory learning for every high school student. Let’s create diplomas that represent more than just an entry ticket.
Let’s return high school to the more lofty status it once had.