What If they Didn’t…?

In Pinellas county, the high school graduation rate is somewhere less than 50 percent. Statewide, that number is comparably depressing. Less than half of students ever make it out of high school with a diploma. Florida also does not compare well nationally. For as long as I can remember, Florida has ranked in the bottom ten of the nation’s schools in terms of putting out top quality education – you know, the chart always topped by Massachusetts and bottomed by Louisiana or Mississippi. So I find myself, in response to the below quote from the Sunday column on this issue:

“We run the risk of telling kids, ‘You’ve gone to school X amount of years, and you didn’t learn anything.’ That’s a scary thought,” Hillsborough County School Board member Susan Valdes said.

What if they didn’t? Learn anything, I mean. What if the average Floridian student is not suitibly prepared for college? Or ready to enter the ever increasingly STEM-dependent workforce? I find myself concluding: they aren’t – I certainly wasn’t – and last week’s retreat from owning this failure proves the state’s students will continue to exit school utterly unprepared.

So let’s run away from owning it and adjust what “passing” means. It echoes our contemporaries at the bottom of the nation’s educational totem pole. Let’s embrace our fine Southern exemplars on the Mississippi river. Let’s eviscerate education funding and redefine success ever lower.




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