I agree that California and our nation as a whole have a tremendous problem with high school dropouts, particularly in the black and Hispanic communities (L.A. Schools' Silent Scandal, editorial, March 25). Fortunately, there is something being done to address this crisis.
Under the No Child Left Behind law, schools and districts are held accountable for graduation rates, and schools can no longer allow a dropout to be counted as a transfer. Poorly performing students can no longer be nudged out of the system in a misguided effort to raise school averages on tests. The law is forcing schools, districts and states to count every child and ensure that they are learning. States also must annually report their statewide dropout rates.
I am also exploring other ways to attack this pernicious dropout problem. However, I differ with The Times that more vocational education is the solution. Where is the proof that more federal funding of vocational education would lower dropout rates? The fact is, there is no proof, but there is hard evidence that students who fall behind academically are at great risk of not graduating.
The Times, unfortunately, seems to believe that spending yet more money on unproven programs and talking to students after they've dropped out can solve the problem. Shouldn't we spend the funds we do have on innovative methods to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need before that happens?
U.S. Secretary of Education