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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.

That first car is a rite of passage into adulthood. Specifically, the hard-earned lesson of expectations versus reality. Though some of us are blessed with Teslas at 17, most teenagers receive a car that’s been … let’s say previously loved. And that’s probably a good thing, considering nearly half of first-year drivers end up in wrecks. Might as well get the dings on the lemon, right?

Of course, wrecks aside, buying a used car might end up costing more in the long run after needing repairs, breaking down and just a general slew of unexpected surprises. But hey, at least we can all look back and laugh.

My first car, for example, was a hand-me-down Toyota of some sort from my mother. I don’t recall the specific model, but I definitely remember getting into a fender bender within the first week of having it. She had forgotten to get the brakes fixed … isn’t that a fun story?

Jimmy Fallon recently asked his “Tonight Show” audience on Twitter to share their own worst car experiences. Some of them make my brake fiasco look like cakewalk (or cakedrive, in this case). Either way, these responses might make us all feel a little less alone. Or at the very least, give us a chuckle.

Here are 22 responses with the most horsepower:

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TikTok about '80s childhood is a total Gen X flashback.

As a Gen X parent, it's weird to try to describe my childhood to my kids. We're the generation that didn't grow up with the internet or cell phones, yet are raising kids who have never known a world without them. That difference alone is enough to make our 1980s childhoods feel like a completely different planet, but there are other differences too that often get overlooked.

How do you explain the transition from the brown and orange aesthetic of the '70s to the dusty rose and forest green carpeting of the '80s if you didn't experience it? When I tell my kids there were smoking sections in restaurants and airplanes and ashtrays everywhere, they look horrified (and rightfully so—what were we thinking?!). The fact that we went places with our friends with no quick way to get ahold of our parents? Unbelievable.

One day I described the process of listening to the radio, waiting for my favorite song to come on so I could record it on my tape recorder, and how mad I would get when the deejay talked through the intro of the song until the lyrics started. My Spotify-spoiled kids didn't even understand half of the words I said.

And '80s hair? With the feathered bangs and the terrible perms and the crunchy hair spray? What, why and how?

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"Veteran" mom and "new" mom parent differently.

When a couple has their first child, they start out with the greatest of intentions and expectations. The child will only eat organic food. They will never watch TV or have screen time and will always stay clean.

But soon, reality sets in and if they have more kids, they'll probably be raised with a lot less attention. As a result, first-born kids turn out a bit differently than their younger siblings.

"Rules are a bit more rigid, attention and validation is directed and somewhat excessive," Niro Feliciano, LCSW, a psychotherapist and anxiety specialist, told Parents. "As a result, firstborns tend to be leaders, high achievers, people-pleasing, rule-following and conscientious, several of the qualities that tend to predict success."

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