Wednesday, June 1, 2011

FTF Correcting Past Mistakes

CORRECTING PAST MISTAKES: As a society, Americans have established a public education system that endeavors to give all of its young citizens a fair shake at becoming successful as adults. Unfortunately, in many sad and regrettable ways, America’s public schools have grown tired of themselves. Plainly, in some cases, they have simply given up. Lack of money and lack of will have combined to create enormous cracks that too many students easily fall through. Consequently, the hope for productive lives is replaced with the reality of wasted and burdensome lives, and the joy of America becomes its despair.

The question must be asked: Why are students who have not achieved grade-level skills passed when they should be rightly failed? This is a moral question, not a practical consideration. Why are we not behaving ‘rightly’ with the lives of children when it is our solemn duty to do so? The only possible answer is that we simply do not care enough to do the right thing, especially when the wrong thing is such an easy alternative. And so how do we then live with our mistakes? What happens when a near functionally illiterate 9th grader finally learns skills in several months that should have been rightly mastered over the preceding eight years of classroom instruction? How then are the past mistakes of the public education system corrected?

The SUSA FTF program is a beginning solution, and it is wholly a practical solution. The moral component necessary to correct past mistakes is something else entirely, but SUSA is courageous enough to address the moral issue, too. Doing ‘the right thing’ to fulfill its promise to meet and serve the needs of its students is no small thing, yet SUSA goes there anyway and calls upon Eugene School District 4J (E-4J) to share the commitment.

Doing ‘the right thing’ is this: SUSA will commit to allowing a student to be enrolled in its FTF program for fully two school years if E-4J commits to allowing both a fully one year or more FTF student and a fully two year FTF student the option to continue his/her free public high school education for one additional school year beyond the normal allotment, meaning graduation from SUSA would be accomplished after five school years for those students. It is not asking too much if this is done; indeed, it is meeting the moral imperative with a resounding, “Yes, we will do the right thing!” The justification is simple: any student who receives an option to continue SUSA enrollment for a fifth year is a student who should have been rightly failed and made to repeat at least one year of schooling prior to entering high school, but was not.

Though many students will remain in the FTF program for exactly one school year or exactly two school years, it is not the SUSA intent to be so neat and tidy as that. Whatever the case turns out to be, any student entering the regular SUSA curriculum will enter the 9th grade Required Courses (5-period day) schedule described above.

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