Last week, U.S. Representative George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, introduced legislation that would provide $2 billion to improve the nation’s lowest-performing middle and high schools. The bill, the Graduation for All Act, would target the nation’s approximately two thousand “dropout factories,” which have dropout rates above 40 percent, and the middle schools that feed into them.
“We are failing our students, failing our communities, and failing our nation if we allow this dropout crisis to continue,” said Miller. “Ending this epidemic is a civil rights imperative, a moral issue, and an economic necessity. This bill says that it is no longer acceptable to let an at-risk student fall through the cracks and empowers schools to make the changes needed to help at-risk students thrive in school, earn a diploma, and go on to college or a good job.”
The bill would provide school districts with clear guidance on turn-around strategies while also providing students at risk of dropping out with the tools they need to stay in school and succeed. For example, it would combine rigorous course work with academic and social support services to keep students engaged in school and help high schools implement a data system to identify students at risk of dropping out based on key indicators such as being frequently absent and failing core courses.
The Graduation for All Act would also promote college enrollment and career readiness by providing students with information about financial aid options and allowing high school students to earn up to two years of college credit through Early College High Schools and dual enrollment programs. It would also help students develop graduation and career plans.
“Transforming the nation’s economy means transforming the nation’s high schools,” said Alliance for Excellent Education President Bob Wise. “By tackling the approximately 12 percent of high schools that account for over half of the nation’s dropouts, the Graduation for All Act can provide a significant boost to the nation’s graduation rate while helping millions of students earn the high school diploma that is so critical to their future success.”
Joining Miller as cosponsors of the bill are Representatives Danny Davis (D-IL), Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), Dale Kildee (D-MI), David Loebsack (D-IA), and Bobby Scott (D-VA).
More information on this legislation is available at http://edlabor.house.gov/newsroom/2009/11/house-democrats-introduce-legi-1.shtml.