Friday, March 7, 2008

How to fix the dropout problem?

I try to be open-minded and unbiased when I read a new policy proposal, but I can't help but be excited when I read something that's "outside the box" -- something about new ideas just appeals to my creative side regardless of how good they are.

This blog post and this blog post both pointed me to this article in the Washington Post from Monday that is nothing not "outside the box" (the two blog entries seemed to take opposite sides on the article).

In short, his idea is this: let kids drop-out of high school instead of trying to keep them in, but take the money that would've been spent on their education and put it in an education trust fund that they can access at a later date. Then, at some point in time they realize that dropping out was a dumb idea and they have the resources to finish their education.

The fact that idea, at least in its current form, is politically infeasible makes me hesitate to spend much time analyzing it. One of the biggest problems is that schools don't currently spend the x dollars that it takes to educate one kid when they drop out, so they'd have to raise spending in order to put that amount in a savings account each year. Secondly, they don't save x dollars when a kid drops out -- there are too many fixed costs. Lack of economic feasibility aside, I like the effect such a plan would have on the environment in high schools (all the kids who don't want to be there would be gone) but am doubtful that the later-in-life education would be a panacea or that all problems can be solved simply by giving somebody more options. That said, I do find the idea absolutely fascinating simply because it is so different.

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