The NEA has released a new 12-point blueprint for reducing the nation’s high school dropout problem. First, as a general issue, this is a departure for the NEA and one that should be welcomed, this is not just a memo from Dr. No. In fact, some very good stuff in it, especially the emphasis on catching kids who are post-high school age but could still complete. Leaving aside some yet unfleshed out details, my only quibbles are (a) they call for $10 billion for new dropout prevention initiatives over the next decade. I’m all for more resources targeted at this problem and that’s a nice round number but I’d like to see the analysis on $1 billion annually. Seems you could argue that more or less is needed and (b) they call for essentially making 21 the compulsory schooling age. That’s a really boneheaded idea that would be next to impossible to enforce and likely distract from the other items on their agenda.* But hey, 11 out of 12 isn’t bad. Also, inside baseball, the NEAers embrace the Jay Greene grad rate numbers and diss the EPIers! That’s like spending thousands on gifts for your wife and then taking off with the babysitter.
*I suspect some pollster told them that they had to have a tough love part of their agenda and that’s the most they could swallow. I’d substitute something more substantial like a dramatic federal-state intervention in the serious dropout factories (pdf) if the goal is to (a) show voters you’re not just about spending gobs of money and (b) actually address the problem.