'Regular' schooling isn't preventing dropouts, but alternative education could. So what are we doing?

Turns out treating students like individuals instead of like products is better for graduation rates.

What if I told you America cuts the number of high school dropouts it currently has in half, its economy could be projected to net gain about $1 trillion over 10 years?

Image via Michael 1952/Flickr.


According to economics experts E. Rouse and their calculations, that just might be right.

Half the dropouts equals $1 TRILLION net gain in America's economy in 10 years. It's a theory, but it's a theory made of math and studied by Rouse in a piece they wrote in The New York Times called "The True Cost of High School Dropouts."

In his TED Talk on a similar topic, Sir Ken Robinson mentions this high cost of dropouts as well as a few ideas on how to lower that cost by lowering the number of dropouts in America.

So how do we stop the dropouts, Sir Robinson?

Here's what he thinks might work: Quit making alternative education programs the "alternative."

Non-alternative education, or what we currently think of as the "normal" way of doing things in American education, encourages a kind of conformity. Yes, we all need to learn to add and read; that's a good thing to conform to. But as it is, education is forcing a lot of American kids to pour themselves into a one-size-only mold. The result is that (too many) children just jump out of the mold entirely.

Alternative education programs, however, tell a different story. They're set up not as mechanical molding systems, but human systems. Take the University of Minnesota's Check and Connect dropout prevention program. It involves paying attention to the individual student's story if they're seen to be at risk for dropout — that's the "check" part — and then a large chunk of the program is personalized solutions and individual care for the student.

Robinson visited such alternative education programs in his hometown of Los Angeles, California.


GIFs via TED Talk.

A personal, autonomous, diverse education system with strong support for teachers and very close ties to the community? If that's alternative education, then I don't wanna be normal. Do you?

Robinson agrees.

"What's interesting to me is that these are called 'alternative education.' And all the evidence from around the world is that if we all did that, there'd be no need for the alternative."

For more on how Robinson sees America gaining that cool trillion, watch this video. It ends on a really inspirational Ben Franklin quote that only really hits home if you watch all 20 minutes.

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If you wonder why the LGBTQ community holds Pride parades, look no further than Grayson Fritts.

If you don't know who Grayson Fritts is, here's a brief intro:

He's a pastor. He's a police officer. And he is on video screaming from the pulpit that the government should kill gay people.

That's not an exaggeration.

In a video of a fist-pounding sermon at All Scripture Baptist church in Knoxville, Tennessee, Fritts said that police should round up people at Pride parades, put them through a quick trial, and then put them to death.

"The Bible says the powers that be are ordained of God," he said, "and God has instilled the power of civil government to send the police in 2019 out to these LGBT FREAKS and arrest them. Have a trial for them, and if they are convicted then they are to be put to death…do you understand that? It's a capital crime to be carried out by our government. Not Christians...unless you're a policeman. Know what I mean? If you're a policeman it should be your responsibility to carry these things out."

Just FYI, this man was named "Detective of the Month" in 2017. Let that sink in for a hot second.

"Pride parades?" he continued. "Hey, call the riot teams. We got a bunch of 'em, Get the patty wagon out here, we got a bunch of 'em going to jail, we got a bunch of them that we're gonna get convicted because they've got their pride junk on and they're professing what they are, that they're a filthy animal. After this onslaught, where the government's arresting them and carrying out God's laws and they're all dead…"

And that's only part of it. You can watch five minutes of the sermon here, though I don't actually recommend it.


P.S. The church's website states that the church is "a family integrated church, meaning children of all ages are welcome in our services." So presumably, this extremist, violent hate speech was being delivered to children as well as adults. Lovely.

Grayson Fritts and his church planned a meeting for June 29 at a Cracker Barrel in Cleveland, Tennessee. The restaurant said, "Nope."

The church website lists a "Small Town Soul Winning" event for June 29 in Cleveland, Tennessee, about 80 miles southwest of Knoxville. Presumably, that's why Fritts and members of his church were planning an event at the local Cracker Barrel in town.

But according to Knox News, Cracker Barrel has turned away Fritts and his gang, citing the chain's zero-tolerance policy for "discriminatory treatment or harassment of any sort."

Cracker Barrel said it told the church it couldn't hold its event at their restaurant. "We disagree strongly with their statements of hate and divisiveness," the restaurant chain said in a statement. "We serve everyone who walks through our doors with genuine hospitality, not hate, and require all guests to do the same."

For the folks who would say, "But isn't that just Cracker Barrel discriminating against Fritts for his religious beliefs?" No. If the restaurant had said he and his fellow "Christians" couldn't eat there because they were Christian, that would be religious discrimination. It is Fritts' discrimination, hate speech, and advocating of violence that violates the company's policy of service, not his stated religious affiliation.

Businesses have the right to refuse service to customers that pose a threat other customers. No doubt, LGBTQ people eat at Cracker Barrel. Would you feel safe in an enclosed space with a presumably armed man who believes—and tries to convince others—that you should be put to death?

In a capitalist society that values free speech, businesses taking a stand can be a powerful statement.

We can debate all day long about whether hate speech should be protected under the First Amendment, but as of now, it is. One could make the argument that Fritts was inciting violence with his speech—which would make such speech not protected—but the fact that he was advocating for the government to do the violence and not for citizens to take it upon themselves may legally shield him from that argument.

I know that seems weird, but such are the realities of free speech.

However, the First Amendment only protects us from the government squashing our freedom of expression. It does not mean that a business or private entity can't decide that someone's speech is too heinous to allow in their space. Speech is not protected from other people calling you out on what you say. It's not protected from businesses or institutions deciding you're too much of an a-hole to do business with.

No one needs to be tolerant of dehumanization. No one needs to be tolerant of someone calling for innocent people's deaths because of who they are attracted to. No one should stand for that, ever.

Good for Cracker Barrel for making it clear that there is no place for such hatred at their tables.

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