Hard Times, Better Students

November 20, 2008 1 min read

Dennis Fermoyle of In the Trenches of Public Ed sees a potential glimmer of hope in America’s dire economic situation: better student performance. In his experience, students work harder in school when they’re concerned about their future employment. Fermoyle used to teach in a town where students were all but guaranteed good employment after high school working for the taconite companies, the town’s main industry.

I remember asking one mediocre student, who I thought had some talent, why he didn't try harder. He turned to me and said, "Why should I? [After I graduate] I'll be making more money than you are."
About two years after this incident, the floor fell out from under the taconite industry…
There seemed to be a definite improvement in overall effort and performance of our student body. With so few jobs available, and so much unemployment, it was clear to a lot of our kids that if they ever wanted to be able to make a decent living, education was going to matter.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Blogboard blog.