Last weekend, Bill Gates told a meeting of state governors just how bad he thinks high schools are in the US. Among other things he declared them to be "obsolete", a system that doesn’t prepare most students, especially lower-income kids, for the real world (or at least Gates’ version of real).
Over the past few weeks there have been a lot of adults talking about what’s wrong with secondary education. But what do the people who have been through the system, the graduates of high school, think of their preparation? Businesses ask customers about their experience with the company all the time. Maybe schools should do the same.
As a step towards this idea, the Post held an online forum for six college students who graduated from public high schools (two in the Washington area) to discuss Gates’ remarks and other issues about their undergraduate education. There is a great deal of insight and wisdom in what these young adults have to say.
However, this local graduate completely nails one of the major problems with high schools in our district and, I suspect, in others.
I don’t know about you guys, but at my high schools, what the faculty and administration emphasized to students was: "Take honors courses or you will be scanning fruit for the rest of your life." My second high school, West Potomac, seemed more interested in its overall reputation (having more honors students and higher AP scores) than in helping out the individual student. The Washington Post comes out with this list of the top honors programs; I remember the administration gloating when West Potomac made it high on the list. The school seemed most interested in students taking their advanced courses, leaving students who take "regular" classes behind.