Close but no cigar

Dr. Tony Bennett (no, not that Tony Bennett), the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction, wrote an editorial that appeared in Wednesday evening’s News-Sentinel.

The link for your reading pleasure: http://www.news-sentinel.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090930/EDITORIAL/909300343

I find this editorial to be enlightening: 26 seconds, and another American student is dropping out of school. I knew the problem was near catastrophic, but I didn’t know we were losing so many minds so quickly. Dr. Bennett said that he hopes to change this:

Our vision is to make sure 90 percent of students graduate by 2012, and we’re taking steps to make sure this vision becomes reality. Last week, we held the Indiana Dropout Prevention Summit.

This is an amazing goal–not one that is impossible, but definitely one that will take an inordinate amount of effort, ideas, and change in behavior among students, teachers, administrators, and parents.

I understand that this editorial is a small role in the goal of getting 90 percent of students graduating by 2012. As it should it be. It is a small piece that can be used to raise awareness about the problem. It certainly caught my attention.

But if Dr. Bennett wanted to stretch the newsprint as much as possible, I think there were a few things he could have done differently with this editorial:

  1. Published it before the Indiana Dropout Prevention Summit: he should have used the opportunity to draw attention to the event and hopefully create interest in the summit. (this is the most I can find about the event: http://www.americaspromise.org/Our-Work/Dropout-Prevention/Summits/Indiana.aspx ). Then, maybe reporters could have done more to report on it, giving the issue and the possible solutions more media time.
  2. Used a specific call to action. The only call to action in the entire editorial is this: “Adults can provide the guidance, the attention and the positive example necessary to keep students from dropping out.” If Dr. Bennett wants his editorial to make an impact, he needs to specify what that impact should be. This is a well-written, informative editorial, but it is missing an intentionally and intensity.

I applaud Dr. Bennett for attacking the graduation rate issue. Is is only part of the problem with the education system as it stands. Yet if he is going to continue to call to the public to understand the issue, he must also provide the public with a way to help. I would have loved to see more focus in this piece toward parent involvment and adult volunteers and mentors. These groups of people can do so much good in the fight for graduates.

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~ by monifree on October 1, 2009.

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