To the Editor:
I was pleased to read Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters’ Commentary “Closing ‘Dropout Factories’” (July 12, 2006). Their research findings are entirely consistent with those of the Schott Foundation for Public Education. Good schools are good for all children; bad schools aren’t. Ending the education crisis is in the power of those who have responsibility for public education—state by state, district by district, school by school.
Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
To the Editor:
In their Commentary “Closing ‘Dropout Factories,’ ” Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters bring to the table a discussion that should have been presented years ago, and I commend them for doing so. Finding those schools that aren’t working and fixing them certainly isn’t a novel idea, but one that many policymakers have avoided for years.
For far too long, executive-office administrations have promoted the idea that the entire education system is broken, and that we should scrap it and start over. Many of us know this is not true, but policymakers control the money, and money talks. So for years this country has spread its resources thin—some would believe purposefully—in order to mend the failing system. The fact is that we would be better off today had we focused all along on the 15 percent of schools that produce half the nation’s dropouts, as Mr. Balfanz and Ms. Legters suggest.
There is no question that schools that deal with problems related to unemployment, poverty, and other critical social issues in their communities have a hard road to travel. Let’s put our resources and efforts, then, toward developing a major assault on these problems and supporting the schools forced to deal with them.
Our public school system has survived the current “one size fits all” improvement approach because it is a system that works in spite of the past 30 years of government intrusion. But isn’t it time that we all concentrated our energy on fixing those schools that need it most?
Paul C. Gagliarducci
Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District
A version of this article appeared in the August 09, 2006 edition of Education Week as Praise for Essay on ‘Dropout Factories’