Barack Obama offered some sage advice during his State of the Union speech about the importance of education and the need to keep students from dropping out before graduating from high school.  Well, semi-sage, anyway:

We also know that when students don’t walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma.  When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better.  So tonight, I am proposing that every state — every state — requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.

Er, that’s an idea that sounds good for about a moment, until one considers the consequences of essentially jailing uncooperative older teens for several hours a day around other teens who might still get an education.  What do you do with a 17-year-old or a 16-year-old who doesn’t want to be there?  Stick him or her in a classroom, where he or she can end up distracting the teacher enough so that the other students get less attention than they need, apparently.  Either that or warehouse them for six to seven hours in a room with a lot of other malcontents, and then put the worst-performing teachers in the room as babysitters.  That sounds like a recipe for success!  Why not just send them to a trade school or let them get jobs instead?

But if graduation is the greater good, the Wall Street Journal wonders, then why exactly did Obama kill the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program?

The Opportunity Scholarship Program offers vouchers to low-income students to attend private schools. A 2010 study published by Patrick Wolf of the University of Arkansas found that the scholarship recipients had graduation rates of 91%. The graduation rate for D.C. public schools was 56%, and it was 70% for students who entered the lottery for a voucher but didn’t win.

I guess graduation really isn’t the greater good. The greater good is making sure that teachers unions get as much taxpayer money as possible by eliminating school choice.  Jail, indeed. (via Daniel Doherty)

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