In the comments to a recent Linky Friday, doughty commenter Kolohe pointed out some awful stats related to the DC high schools.
That got me wondering, though. What is the point of High School?
To put a finer point on it, I was trying to come up with a list of things that we should expect every high school graduate to be able to do. Not a particularly long list, of course, just a list that could get me to say that if I met a high school graduate who could *NOT* do everything on this list that I would see him as having been failed by those charged to educate him (or, I suppose, see him as having failed to meet his educators halfway).
(As far as I know, everybody who graduated with me in my graduation class was able to do everything on this list.)
1. Read a book about as tough as Animal Farm and summarize it
2. Algebra II level stuff. Maybe not be able to sing the quadratic equation to the tune of “Pop Goes The Weasel” but could, when given the equation and a, b, and c, plug in the values and tell me what at least one value of X was.
3. Write a five paragraph essay
4. Read a scale, a thermometer, and a measuring flask
I’m trying to come up with more, but each extra entry I’m making to the list gets me to say “well, maybe not everybody could do that…” like, name the three branches of American Government? Hrm. I don’t know that everybody could do that… Outline how a bill becomes a law? Hrm… Not sure…
But I’m pretty much certain that every single person who graduated from my high school was able to do at least a satisfactory job doing those things.
And, more than that, I’d say that any high school that graduated a student that could *NOT* do those four things had failed that student (or, I suppose, we could be in a place where the student was messed up beyond the point of being teachable).
I know that there are a lot of things that we might put on such a list for *OUR* children, of course… “Not only will you be able to do those things, but you’ll be able to write a five paragraph essay about having read a book *TWICE* as difficult as Animal Farm! Like, The Phantom Toolbooth!” But I’m just looking at a list of things that we can say that a high school that fails to graduate a significant number of children who can do these things is a failing high school (like, we won’t be able to just point at the students and conclude that, hey, they’re *ALL* broken beyond our ability to educate them).