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'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.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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RumorGuard by The News Literacy Project.

The 2016 election was a watershed moment when misinformation online became a serious problem and had enormous consequences. Even though social media sites have tried to slow the spread of misleading information, it doesn’t show any signs of letting up.

A NewsGuard report from 2020 found that engagement with unreliable sites between 2019 and 2020 doubled over that time period. But we don’t need studies to show that misinformation is a huge problem. The fact that COVID-19 misinformation was such a hindrance to stopping the virus and one-third of American voters believe that the 2020 election was stolen is proof enough.

What’s worse is that according to Pew Research, only 26% of American adults are able to distinguish between fact and opinion.

To help teach Americans how to discern real news from fake news, The News Literacy Project has created a new website called RumorGuard that debunks questionable news stories and teaches people how to become more news literate.

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She's enjoying the big benefits of some simple life hacks.

James Clear’s landmark book “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” has sold more than 9 million copies worldwide. The book is incredibly popular because it has a simple message that can help everyone. We can develop habits that increase our productivity and success by making small changes to our daily routines.

"It is so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment and underestimate the value of making small improvements on a daily basis,” James Clear writes. “It is only when looking back 2 or 5 or 10 years later that the value of good habits and the cost of bad ones becomes strikingly apparent.”

His work proves that we don’t need to move mountains to improve ourselves, just get 1% better every day.

Most of us are reluctant to change because breaking old habits and starting new ones can be hard. However, there are a lot of incredibly easy habits we can develop that can add up to monumental changes.

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