My High Schooler wants to drop out

Why I Encouraged My Child to Drop Out of High School

Commentary

By Donald E. Heller

It is high school graduation season, and around the country about 3 million students have already or soon will don caps and gowns, process momentously to the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance, ” and listen to countless speeches intended to inspire and propel young graduates into the next stage of their lives.

Two years ago, it was my older daughter who participated in this spring ritual. And in another two years, my younger daughter would be scheduled to graduate from high school. But she will not, because she has decided to drop out of high school after only two years. And my wife and I support her decision.

As an educator myself, and as the dean of one of the nation’s most respected colleges of education, one which trains over 500 teachers a year, I did not find it easy to support our daughter’s decision. My wife was a public school teacher for many years, and we are both very supportive of public schools. The decision to allow our daughter to become a high school dropout when she approached us with the idea was one that our family debated intensely during the last six months. In the end, we agreed with our daughter that this was the best path for her.

"We wish that public schools could provide a better learning environment for children who are square pegs and who do not fit into the round hole of a traditional, test-centric educational environment."

The main factor behind this decision was our daughter’s dissatisfaction with the high school education she was receiving. She attended the public high school in our community, one that has a fine reputation. U.S. News & World Report, in its ranking of high schools around the country, rated her school as one of the best in Michigan. Students there, on average, perform very well on the state tests, far in excess of the statewide average.

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FAQ

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What percent of high schoolers drop out?

52 percent of public high school students grad.after 4 yrs,national average is 70 percent.1.2 million H.S.students drop out a year

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