An Idea So Crazy It Just…Might…..Work!

by Robert Pondiscio
March 5th, 2008

I’m a sucker for thoughtful iconoclasts and unconventional wisdom, which may explain why I find a radical proposal being bandied about this week by Michael Goldstein, founder of the Match Charter Public High School in Boston, so appealing. Goldstein is arguing in favor of letting kids who want to drop out of high school leave, but creating funding to let them return once they’ve tasted life outside of school.

The idea is so out-of-the-mainstream that the Washington Post’s Jay Matthews gave nearly his entire column to let Goldstein explain himself because, as Matthews put it, “anyone who is willing to risk his splendid reputation to this degree should have a chance to explain all the details.”

But Goldstein’s idea is no crazier than the naive faith we place in the magic power of a high school diploma, which we treat as if it’s a magic amulet, protecting its owner. Too often we move kids up and move ‘em out, diploma in hand, and put a check mark next to the kid’s name on our To Do list. So what if the kid can hardly read? He’s got a diploma….Mission Accomplished!

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