A New Approach to the Drop-Out Problem

Bill Gates may have dropped out of college, but he doesn’t want poor kids to drop out of high school. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is investing $9.9 million to underwrite the expansion of the Georgia-based Communities in Schools program to Virginia and three other states. CIS, which targets students who have dropped out or are threatening to drop out of high school, will set up shop in the Richmond region.

While less than half of low-income and minority students in the U.S.complete high school, 85 percent of CIS students earn their diplomas and two-thirds go on to some form of post-secondary education.

According to a CIS press release, the program supports at-risk students with community resources and services, balancing health, safety, and social needs with academic demands. Instructors work with students to create individualized learning plans, and equip them with the “CIS Five Basics:” (1) a one-on-one relationship with a caring adult, (2) a safe place to be, (3) a healthy start in life, (4) a marketable skill to use upon graduation, and (5) an opportunity to give something back to the community.

I don’t know if this program will work or not, but we need more experiments like this. The trouble with a top-down school system like Virginia’s is that it discourages localized experimentation and innovation. Let’s hope Bill Gates can succeed where so many others have failed.

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5 responses to “A New Approach to the Drop-Out Problem”

  1. Anonymous Avatar

    I am by no means an expert on the matter, but from everything I can tell, Bill Gates does a hell of a lot for a lot of GOOD CAUSES, and I wish the governments of this country and in Europe would discontinue their witch-hunt against him.

  2. Anonymous Avatar

    The number one problem with education is that it is no longer aligned with the job market.

    The skills needed to thrive today weren’t even taught to the teachers who are teaching today.

    It’s tough to expect them to teach them.

  3. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    While I tend to believe that Bill Gates is a monopolist who often unfairly competes, one must give him credit for spending his own money in an attempt to address a serious problem — drop-outs.

    Contrast Gates to the business executives of Fairfax County, too many of whom spend most of their efforts attempting to lobby Congress and the GA to raise taxes and increase subsidies (direct or indirect) to their businesses or landholdings. Witness the effort of the McLean Chamber of Commerce to get additional funding for the train that won’t help traffic congestion.

  4. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “The skills needed to thrive today weren’t even taught to the teachers who are teaching today.

    It’s tough to expect them to teach them.”

    then the Press Release: “Communities In Schools (CIS) today announced a $9.9 million investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to expand its network of non-traditional high schools, opening 12 new Performance Learning Centers (PLCs) in four more states”

    so I ask.. where is CIS finding teachers who ARE capable of teaching today’s skills?

    and why can’t our public schools find these same teachers?

    I don’t blame the teachers .. this is not a teacher issue.. it’s a management/administration issue.

  5. Toomanytaxes Avatar

    If we eliminated a reasonable portion of the educrats, such as many of the 200 curriculum specialists from Fairfax County’s public schools, we could pay teachers more without spending more.

    True story. Several years ago, Fairfax County purchased a new student record database system for around $10 M with the goal of mechanizing student records and reducing administrative costs. The system was purchased, but the school board and the union agreed no jobs were to be lost. FCPS found new jobs for all those employees who were no longer needed to handle student records.

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