A stay-in-school law?

Shawn Magrath

Every now and then, I like to skim the 30 seconds page on the Evening Sun website to find a good blogging topic. To my dismay, not many people have commented on the President’s proposal to make it a federal law that students stay in school until the age of 18 or until they graduate. People resort to 30 seconds to vent about everything from politics to the weather to the pedestrian in the crosswalk that didn’t give the courtesy wave after a car stopped to let them by. I was sure that this new step toward education reform would draw more attention.

Which brings me to my rant. I was a little disappointed when I heard the President’s proposal. And for those who think it’s a plus that at least he recognizes education as an issue, of course he does; he’s a politician. Every politician is pro education (I hear it’s good for their careers to not want dumb kids). Realistically, such a law isn’t doing any favors for students or for education in general. It’s great to suggest, encourage, inspire, motivate students to stay in school, but forcing them to attend isn’t going to have a positive impact for a number of reasons and I hope that’s something legislators will see.

Instead, wouldn’t it be great for educators to embellish learning according to students’ interests to hamper the drop-out rate? Good teachers already make this a priority but federal and state mandates – along with budget cuts and increasing class sizes – are making it increasingly difficult to follow through. If government wants to keep dabbling with new mandates in education, why not give educators a little more free reign instead of backing them into a corner so they have to (as I’ve heard so many teachers say) teach to the test? Rather than making it illegal for students to drop out of school, maybe more attention should be directed toward restoring some of the resources and flexibility for doing what most teachers want to do: Educate and inspire.

That being said, how about the weather? It’s a gorgeous day and I’m sure it’s putting all the 2012 apocalypse and Mayan-calendar-end-of-days believers in a spin. Hang in there for another 11 months.