Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why We Need Schools for the Future

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Why We Need Schools for the Future

Article excerpt

Byline: Tonyaa Weathersbee

I hope that Ed Pratt-Dannals is right.

Back in January, the Duval County school superintendent told The Florida Times-Union that he viewed the problems plaguing Schools for the Future, its $1.7 million pilot program to keep overage students in school, "as a bump in the road."

Among other things, the school's former principal, Michelle Joseph, failed to give students the Florida Assessments for Instructions in Reading Test - a crucial step in gauging students' reading skills.

Then there was the matter of the missing student computer tablets. Seventeen of the tablets, valued at $150 each, disappeared from the school.

DROPOUTS COST SOCIETY

Now the School Board has to decide whether the program ought to get a second chance. And unless it is eyeing another alternative, I think that it should.

I say this because even though $1.7 million is a lot of money to pour into a program that obviously needs better monitoring, the costs to society for overage students - most of whom ultimately drop out of school - are much higher.

No one has to look far to see that.

Besides being more likely to be unemployed or incarcerated or dependent on social services, dropouts also cost society in other ways.

According to research by the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington, D.C.-based organization that aims to prepare students for life after high school, if the number of new high school graduates in Florida were raised to 90 percent, that would yield another $33 million in local and state tax revenue, and another $75 million in federal tax revenue.

That's a lot more in benefits than the $1.7 million it cost to start Schools for the Future - or the $2,550 cost of the missing tablets.

No doubt it's tough to educate students like the ones the school serves.

They are 14 to 16 years old and are behind two or more grades. …

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