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The Coming Paradigm Shift in Education Reform

Instead of ignoring the role poverty plays in hindering student achievement, the next wave of reformers might tackle it head on.

If you hang out with people in the education world long enough you'll quickly find that bringing up the connection between poverty and poor student achievement can start a heated debate. While researchers, wonks, and politicians tacitly acknowledge the effect of poverty on students, the reform conversation usually focuses on school-centered solutions—modifying teacher tenure or creating common education standards, for example. But a national working group, the “Futures of School Reform,” a three-year-old collaboration of 20 prominent education experts brought together by Harvard's School of Education, says the era of reformers discounting poverty could be coming to an close.

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Should High School Dropouts Be Denied Driver's Licenses?

Minnesota's the latest state to revoke driver's licenses from teens who drop out, but that might not be the answer to the dropout crisis?


Want to drive? Don't drop out of high school. That's the thinking behind a slew of drop out prevention laws cropping up nationwide. Twenty states already link the ability to legally drive with staying in school, and Minnesota legislators are currently reviewing a bill that will make them the 21st. Sure, being able to drive is a privilege, but is taking away licenses really the most effective way to make kids stay in school?

These laws have a needlessly punitive effect on dropouts who are either seeking employment or need to drive to and from a current job. And, oddly, attending school in the state is only compulsory for children between the ages of 7 and 16. Once a child is between 16 and 18, they merely need written consent from a parent or guardian to leave school. Minnesota Department of Education statistics show that in 2009, 4,000 students dropped out of school, so getting that consent must not be that much of a problem.

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What If the Notorious B.I.G. Hadn't Dropped Out of High School?

Rapper Christoper Wallace was murdered 14 years ago today. He dropped out of school in 1989, and his Brooklyn high school is still a dropout factory.


The name "Christopher Wallace" has been in Twitter's top ten trending topics today. That's because it's the 14th anniversary of the Notorious B.I.G.'s unsolved 1997 murder. His superior lyrics and flow still garner him a top spot on virtually every "Greatest Rappers of All Time" list. But, despite his talent with words, the Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, native was a high school dropout.

Wallace didn't drop out because he wasn't smart. In fact, he was known throughout his middle school years at the Roman Catholic Queen of All Saints Middle School as a high-achieving, excellent student. No surprise, he was a stand-out in English class and even won several awards. He initially attended a parochial school, Bishop Loughlin Memorial, for high school but later switched to the public George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High. At Westinghouse, Wallace was chronically truant and, in 1989 at the age of 17, he left school to sell drugs.

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