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[Susan notes: I grew up with Dad's story of what a high school diploma meant to him, and I'm proud that Stephen Krashen uses it to good effect to counter the current political bashing of public schools.]

Published in Daily Breeze

To the editor

Sent to the Daily Breeze (California), May 20

Thomas Elias warns us that the dropout rate is higher than we think it is, and that we need to know the true dropout rate so that schools can take appropriate action ( State dropout reports whitewash local schools May 19).

But the figures presented to the public overestimate dropout rates because they are based on four-year completion of high school. This means that students with the perseverance to graduate in more than four years, or who get GEDs, are counted as dropouts. These late completers, most of whom have to work at least part-time, should be praised for their determination and self-discipline.

During the Great Depression, the father of education expert education expert Susan Ohanian alternated working a year and going to high school a year, because his family needed the money. He was not a failure. He was a hero.

Making school more flexible to accommodate work schedules would certainly reduce the dropout rate. Improving the economy would make dropping out to work less necessary and would reduce the dropout rate even more.

Stephen Krashen

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