Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Drop out rates more than 4 times higher in Boston than Cambridge

The annual report of drop out rates in Massachusetts has come out and the good news is that Boston has lowered its percentage by about 1 percent. Somehow, the Menino administration seems to think this is a major shift. But, if one looks at the numbers it shows Boston near the bottom in the state for dropouts and much higher than the state average.

Perhaps most obvious is that the City of Cambridge, a multicultural city with low income and affordable housing has a drop out rate almost 5 times lower than Boston, and has been that much lower for every year that the study reports. In Boston the drop out rate is 7.6%, in Cambridge 1.6%. Before we go on a nationwide search for answers, perhaps we just need to go across the river and ask what is working over there.

Clearly the answer is not just more schools with fewer students which was the big push a couple of years ago. Cambridge Rindge & Latin is the only high school in Cambridge with more than 1500 students. I thought then, as I do now, that dividing these schools up was more like moving the deck chairs around on the Titanic, although I do applaud them for trying.

We need to do statistical analysis of what is working and what isn't, get rid of busing so we can put more money into the schools and have kids studying more than driving. We need involvement in the schools by parents, officials, etc. and we need to acknowledge the good work that is being done and figure out how to emulate it.

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