Reading, writing and rapid passage
The new idea in education is rapid passage to graduation. Too many high school students are bored and taking up space in our classrooms. They dream of getting on with their educational and vocational goals.They are not necessarily part of the “in” crowd or the “out” crowd. They may not even want to make quarterback on the football team or be on the cheerleading squad, and the local beer parties just don’t interest them.They may be extremely bright, precocious, interested in academics and ready to leave high school and move on in the “uncool” world of post secondary education and vocations.Rachel was one of these students. A bright, hardworking, artistic 17-year-old who might pass for a statuesque model in any group, she felt bored and constrained by the limits of high school and ready to move into the adult world.Even her hobby of raising and training horses, working part-time and pursuing artistic endeavors could not dampen her desire to move into the next stage of her life.She was ready – no longer interested in football games, proms, teenage gossip or collecting boyfriends.New high school and college programs recognize that there are many Rachels in our world. They are ready to move on with parental approval, excellent basic skills and take fewer of the so-called enrichment programs and electives that take up time but really don’t provide entrance into the adult world.The state of Florida has met this problem by permitting three-year programs in the high schools for students who are ready for a rapid transition to young adulthood. This policy is a realistic recognition of the fact that many students do not need the fourth year of high school to loaf, test authority, waste precious educational time and drive their parents to distraction.The senior year at high school is often a trying time for family relationships. The future graduate may feel that he no longer has to abide by family rules, and parents find that the authority-testing and acting-out behavior is most troubling at this time.Counselors tell us these kids are fish out of water, spending a year in limbo, feeling entitled to special privileges. Local psychologists tell us they counsel more high school seniors than those in the other grades.Many students opt out of high school at some time in their senior year. They have enough credits to earn a diploma and move on. Many work to earn some money toward college and are tired of the “kid stuff” associated with the teenage years. High schools have added advanced placement courses, but, of course, they are presented within the high school culture.For years the community colleges have been taking up the slack, providing GED programs and individualized high school completion programs for many different kinds of students. Many of these students go on to receive an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree or professional training through the agreements that community colleges have with four-year institutions.For example, numerous learning partnership programs are available at Colorado Mountain College. Interested students should inquire about the programs available to them.Early college programs have also recognized this need for years. The Simon’s Rock Early College program in Great Barrington, Mass., a satellite campus of Bard College, has been extremely successful in meeting the needs of this segment of the high school population. Its program has expanded to supervising two new early college programs for students in New York City with start-up costs of $400,000 each provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. These are similar to the Bard High School program begun a few years ago.The Gates Foundation has responded to requests from so many states that at least 150 new early college programs are planned during the next few years.Three-year high school programs and early college programs are filling an important need.Many students still aren’t getting the kind of education that they deserve in high school, and their attitudes show it. Give them an academic challenge and they will respond in a more mature way.For further information contact Helen Ginandes Weiss, M.A, and Martin S. Weiss, M.A., learning consultants, via e-mail at email@example.com or by writing to P.O. Box 38, Twin Lakes, CO 81251. Call them at (719) 486-5800.
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