Articles are available for reprint as long as the author is acknowledged: Domenick J. Maglio Ph.D.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


By Domenick J. Maglio PhD Traditional Realist

There is continual concern about the dropout rate in our public high schools. The dropout rate changes depending on how it is defined and calculated. The Department of Education head, Arnie Duncan, has stated the graduation rate in high schools has reached 80%. This percentage is highly suspect and still leaves one out of five students being a dropout. In the past America had one of the lowest dropout rates; currently we have one of the highest.

Inflating the graduation statistics does not solve the actual dynamics of why students do not want to continue in school. It does not increase the quality of education.  Many students are involved with alternative schools, special behavioral intervention and drug and alcohol programs. Many states are making it easier to water down standards to get a diploma. The states are under pressure from the federal government to increase graduate rates by hook or crook. Some school districts are outright cheating to increase graduation rates. Relaxing standards might be one way to increase the percentages of graduates but decreases the quality of everyone’s diploma that is entering the job market.

Battling reluctant students like this takes immense time and energy, which robs other students who want to be in school of their teacher’s talent and knowledge. A few students might become motivated to apply themselves to their studies changing the direction of their future. These are rare but greatly satisfying success stories for the teachers and administrators. These turn-around students deserve the majority of the credit for choosing to make a mature decision. They are the exception to the rule.

No student should be forced to attend a traditional academic or alternative type of educational setting. They ought to earn the privilege of an education. Young adults from 16-18 years of age should be required to do all the assignments in a correct and timely manner or be dismissed from the program. They definitely should not be given a diploma they have not earned.

Reluctant students have concrete reasons not wanting to be in school. The student might be so far behind in his academic abilities and skills that he has concluded school is not for him. Other students have no interest or positive attitude at that particular time in life to go along with school regulations and procedures. They rather do anything else. For them school is a slow and constant torture. These unhappy campers often become nuisances or worse, defiant students who require strong discipline actions by authorities. Many of these frustrated and angry souls may possess very sharp minds and skills but have already decided they want out as of yesterday. They think school is a waste of time.

The majority of reluctant students would be better served by giving them what they want, which is to experience another environment. Whatever their choice is, it is better than feeling like a caged animal. A change of scenery could help the youngster look at the world from a different perspective. Entering the job market might jolt them enough to begin to appreciate what they had as a student in school.

Most returning students who did not obtain a high school or college diploma as a young adult are usually more dedicated and productive than the younger more immature students. These older students may prosper in the job market where they experience a lot of positive successes. This can give a failing student real life reinforcement assisting the maturation process. Everyone is on his own unique timetable to develop. Some are early or late bloomers, not only academically but in becoming responsible adults.

We should not have a cookie-cutter approach for all students’ futures. Graduating from high school may be important and gratifying for many although it could be meaningless to a growing number of others. There are many high paying apprentice type jobs because the public needs these services.

The individual students in the upper grades should have the opportunity to make their own decisions as to the course their life should take. If they have regrets of leaving public school before graduation they can return and complete it. Many people years later have decided to dedicate themselves to get an education credential that earlier was meaningless to them.

“You can lead a horse but can not force it to drink.” Every teacher has experienced this saying with non-motivated students. It is not only a waste of time and energy for the teacher who feels she is getting nowhere but most importantly for the student who cannot complete his education in a system where he feels worthless.

There has to be a place for these students. Some may not be ready to get jobs. Some may not have the correct attitude and skills to be successful in the work force. There should be real alternatives such as trade schools, vocational programs apprenticeships and internships to give the young people an idea of the path they might want to take.

Domenick Maglio, PhD. is a columnist carried by various newspapers, an author of several books and owner/director of Wider Horizons School, a college prep program. You can visit Dr. Maglio at


Post a Comment

<< Home