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Education Woes

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More than one in ten high schools in the US has been labeled as a "dropout factory" by experts. The nickname, which is anything but flattering, applies to schools in which 40% or more of the children don't graduate.

The greatest concentration of these schools lies in large urban centers and areas with high poverty. The neighborhoods may have high crime rates, drugs, and violence. As a result, students may need additional help from social services. But officials point out that some neighborhoods and towns don't have a strong tradition emphasizing the importance of high school graduation. In the past, there were always enough blue-collar jobs.

Many of the students who go to dropout factories enter with poor literacy and math skills. For example, some kids may enter ninth grade with a fifth grade reading ability. This makes the search for a solution more difficult. Because of these obstacles, so many schools fail to give these children opportunities in the land of opportunity.

Japan faces a different problem. Private high schools cater to children without the academic and social skills for traditional school. They are expensive, but easy to enroll in, and are simply degree mills. Principals and administrative staff pressure teachers to give grades based on attendance. If students fail the final test or don't do homework, but go to all of the lessons, they can receive a B average. What's worse, kids can sleep, text messages, or chat with friends instead of participate in the lesson. Teachers admit they don't know what to do, and simply wait to be transferred elsewhere.

Additional woes regarding the state of education come out of England. Although the government has supported a massive program to raise reading rates, reports indicate there hasn't been much impact. The rates remain unchanged since the 1950s.

Preview some of the lesson material:

Speculate: What might "dropout factory" mean? Brainstorm possible answers with a partner(s) for 2 minutes. Spend another 5 minutes or less discussing the ideas together.

Rank It!: Which subject is the most important for life? Rank them in order and support your decisions!

  1. World History
  2. Advanced Algebra
  3. Chemistry
  4. English
  5. Business

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. What is/was your high school like? Please explain.
  2. How important is education for success? Why do you think so?
  3. Do you think that kids learn a lot of useless subjects in school? If yes, what subjects are useless? Why?
  4. Are there similar problems in your country? Are there different problems? Please explain.
  5. What will the consequences be in the future for society if children don't graduate? Why?

Google Search: Type "dropout factory" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.

Download the lesson:

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