Negativity & High School Drop-Outs

Many articles are being written about the high school drop out rate. Recently one appeared about the drop out rate in the Los Angeles City high schools.

I am somewhat familiar with the high school scene in Los Angeles having taught at two of them (one in an African-American neighborhood and the other in a Latino neighborhood)—as well as having served in the district as a high school demonstration teacher, department chair, instructional coordinator, counselor, and athletic director—plus having used nine of their high schools for my dissertation.

Two parts from the article give an indication of the philosophy of the high school reported on—and neither is unique to Los Angeles.

The first: "Seniors looked for their names posted on a bulletin board. If a student was NOT listed, the student earned the right to walk across the stage to get his/her diploma." (Capitals added)

Doesn't it strike someone that posting the names of students who were SUCCESSFUL in meeting all graduation requirements—rather than embarrassing those who did not—would be more dignified to these young adults and reflect more wisdom on the part of the school?

The second: "20-30 kids are constantly out of class. When these students are caught, they receive $250 tickets that require them to appear in court with a parent. About 200 were given out during the last school year. And students still roam," stated the article, which continued:

"The school has since instituted a new system of taking attendance each period, rather than once a day, and is developing a new discipline system to punish truants. Since the attendance system went into effect November 6, students have skipped more than 2,000 classes."

Shouldn't it be obvious that heaping negativity on more negativity to solve this problem would not work? Apparently not, since such practices continue.

The essence of Jean Piaget's hierarchy of cognitive development has been lost: Young people THINK AS YOUNG PEOPLE THINK (not as adults think) but THEY FEEL THE SAME WAY ADULTS FEEL. Unfortunately, too many adults practice the opposite. They think young people think like adults and feel like young people.

Deprivation of dignity is felt—regardless of age.

More information on this topic is available at