Debating Assumptions About Dropouts

Northwestern High dropout, Greenbelt resident tells NPR about his experiences without a high school diploma.

President Obama's State of the Union pledge to stem dropouts by requiring students to stay in school until they had earned their diplomas or turned 18 turned a lot of heads across the nation and

At the Busyboys and Poets State of the Union watch party on Jan. 25,

One teacher in the audience thought the idea might be a bit far reaching.

"I personally do not think everyone needs to go to college," she told the panel. "I'm sorry, some jobs don't need to have three classes in philosophy, and those jobs make quite a bit of money."

Radio host Tom Ashburn, moderator of NPR's On Point program also took the the airwaves with a varied panel asking how the president might reduce the drop out rate. His panel included Greenbelt resident Byron Young, who works as a government contractor, a musician and a retail manager.

Young is also a dropout who stopped going to school at age 16 in 2002.

His presence on the show, along with Princeton economics of education professor Cecilia Rouse and Chicago Public High School Principal Peggy Korellis, added a twist to the debate, which often progresses under the assumption that dropping out inherently leads to diminished opportunities.

However, despite making a comfortable life for himself, Young admitted that if he could do it over, he'd have stayed in school.

"It would help, honestly, if the legal age was 18," said Young on the show. "I have missed some opportunities."

Listen to the entire show here, or download the podcast here.

Michael Theis January 31, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Chat show time, again, readers. Have you dropped out, or know someone who does? How has that affected your (or their) post-school life? What do you think of increasing the dropout age (as in will it even help)? Young, introduced at around the 24 minute mark, was but one of several dropouts who voiced their opinion on the matter during the one hour discussion, now I'd like to hear the local perspective.


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