This is my one hot-button issue. Nothing gets me on my soapbox faster than education. (And why shouldn't it, I'm a Mom!) So, now The One has decided to single-handedly (by executive order) revamp NCLB. I must agree with His quote in the article on foxnews.com though. "Our kids only get one shot at a decent education."
You can read the full article here. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/09/23/obama-to-propose-states-opt-out-from-no-child-left-behind-education-law/?test=latestnews
Now, the intent of the law is a good one. Kids should be able to read, write, and do math on grade level. The execution has been horrible. All the schools are doing is teaching the test. I have enough teachers among my friends and family to know that their hands are tied.
What they haven't figured out (at least in Texas) is that not all kids are college material. If you look at the current requirements, it screams COLLEGE. High school is not just about preparing kids for college. For those who can handle college, then yes, use high school to prepare for it. Take the hard classes. However, for those who are not college material or have no interest in going to college, then by God give them something they can do something with. We don't need kids graduating from high school to be looking at themselves in the mirror the day after graduation and saying "Now what do I do?"
So, here's how I would fix it.
Every school district (or region) should have 2 things. 1. JROTC. For college bound students who want to be officers, this is a launch pad to college ROTC or an academy appointment. For students who are not college bound, it gives them something to do that provides a career opportunity. Enlist. Get that instant raise! 2. Every kid should have access to a vocational program. Graduation plans should revolve around these 3 things.
Now I'm going to be politically incorrect. My dad and I were talking about this earlier, and he quoted a Tennessee governor from the 1950's, when integration was a big issue. This governor apparently did not believe that African-Americans were capable of much. He said "someone has to pick the cotton." Well, now someone does have to pick the cotton,fight for our country, do the welding, be the plumbers and electricians, cut and color our hair, fix our cars, etc. (And for the record, I don't care if that person is black, white, or pink with purple polka dots.) The point is that these careers are needed, even though there is no college education necessary for them.
To further prove my point, how do you think all of the things you buy at the big box store get there? The driver of that truck may not even have finished high school. However, he is also not a burden on society, nor is he stupid.