The state of Colorado has amazingly reduced its raw annual dropout numbers by 29% from 18,031 to 12,744 over the five year period from school years 2005-2006 to 2010-2011. This is right on track with addressing previous Governor Bill Ritter’s call to action in 2005 for the state to reduce dropout numbers by 50% in a 10 year period (by the end of the 15-16 school year).
For the same 5 year period, some of the school districts we have been working with have made even greater strides in reducing their dropout numbers.
- Aurora Public Schools – 30% reduction in the number of dropouts from 1706 to 1192
- Denver Public Schools – 43% reduction in the number of dropouts from 4017 to 2292
- Englewood Schools – 48% reduction in the number of dropouts from 266 to 137
- Boulder Valley Schools – 58% reduction in the number of dropouts from 282 to 119
Embarking on any new journey, it is essential to find inspiration. Steve Jobs, Apple and this Think Different commercial are some of the things that inspire me to keep going in the face of challenges and barriers. It may have been awhile since you’ve seen this – it is worth another look. This is a version with Steve Jobs narrating – check it out!
Have you ever wondered how great leaders inspire everyone to take action? Check out this video from Simon Sinek talking at a recent TED conference. Leaders who lead inspirationally, and I would argue effectively, all start with the essential why they are doing what they are doing. Sinek introduces his concept of the golden circle, explaining that the human brain is wired to respond to non-verbal elements and stories that present our reasons behind doing how and what we do. We here at Zero Dropouts are clear about our why- we are absolutely inspired by the remarkable potential of youth. Join us on our Journey to Zero!
Check out this inspiring video unveiled this week at the Colorado Legacy Foundation annual gala. The video challenges us to think differently about education. We definitely need to think differently about education if we are going to expect different results. The video speaks about butts in seats, because that is the way most education is still funded in America. States distribute education funding based on a formula based on one of three criteria- ADA (Average Daily Attendance), ADM (Average Daily Membership) or a One Time Count. Colorado uses the one time count method, commonly referred to as October Count. Whoever shows up to school during a short window of time around October 1st gets counted in the funding formula, and the school district gets funding to serve that student. If the student shows up after that window, then the serving district gets no funding to serve that student. This funding formula is one of the things that we in Colorado need to think differently about like this video inspires us to do.
Calling all co-conspirators – all true believers in the remarkable potential of youth. Those that believe that the dropout problem is not caused by a deficiency in our youth, but instead an inadequacy within our systems of education. We still have an educational system designed for the industrial age, attempting to prepare youth for a factory-model economy.
Times have changed. We need a system designed not only for the new fast- paced economy, but also designed for who we are as people in the 21st century. We customize everything else in our world, why not an educational approach tailored to bring out the best in every one of us, diverse and talented as we are. Our young people will take full advantage of such an educational system if we adults create it for them. Join us. Join the cause. Commit to Zero! Calling all co-conspirators who believe in the remarkable potential of youth. Conspire to Zero!
Most of the work in dropout prevention over the last several decades has been predicated on the belief in the personal deficiency of our young people. In other words, it is built on the belief that we have a dropout problem, because we have bad kids who don’t value education.
But is it really? Personally, in my 30 years working with youth, I’ve found that 95% of students who get to the point of dropping out of school actually want to return to get their high school diploma, but don’t know how to or where to come back to finish. Our society does an amazing job of inculcating into all our citizens, young and old, the value of an education. So if it is not bad kids that are causing our dropout problem, what is?
I believe that we have an outdated system that is irrelevant to a majority of our youth in both the way we teach and what we teach. The ones that drop out are actually the canaries in the coal mine that give us an early warning signal that there is a dire problem with our educational system in its current form.
Dropping out is a rational decision for those whom our system does not serve well – albeit in a large part an ultimately self- defeating proposition, because it is difficult to move forward in this society without the basics of a high school education. We’ve got to create educational systems and approaches and schools that allow these rationale defectors a different way to reach their educational goals. Let’s create a better system more worthy of the amazing kids we have in this country!
“You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can,…to be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.” – Letters to a Young Poet
Where is the inquiry in our American educational system. We are intent on cramming so much core content according to core standards into our young people. Could we create an educational approach that recognizes what Rilke recognizes, and build a container for young people to ask and live their important questions? Could we create a system that is inspired by the remarkable potential of youth, and helps them realize the amazing gifts and talents lying within them all. Sure we can – we can do much better!