Toughlove High?

Washington state may open what’s being called Toughlove High, a military-style boarding school for potential dropouts. The governor is asking for $6 million for two five-month sessions a year of 150 kids each.

California started a military-style school for juvenile offenders — specifically students expelled for bringing a gun to school — in 2001. With such narrow criteria for admissions, Turning Point Academy turned out to be an expensive flop.

When it opened in March 2001, the Turning Point Academy expected to enroll 360 students in its first year for the six-month program. Instead, it drew just one. He was the sole object of attention for 45 staff members and teachers.

Critics dubbed the 16-year-old from Shasta County “the $9 million kid.” That’s what the California National Guard had spent up to that point to hire staff and build barracks, a school campus and dining hall, intended for 160 students at a time.

Short-term, intensive “boot camps” for juvenile offenders fell out of favor when it turned out there’s no evidence the programs make a difference. Perhaps dropouts will like Washington Youth Academy’s structure and sense of purpose, but it’s a very expensive strategy for a very large problem.

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    You have to want the rigor of basic training for it to do you any good.

  2. Indigo Warrior says:

    How about “Let The Kids Stay Home High”

  3. Yikes! $6 million for 2×150 kids? That works out to $20,000 per head!

  4. Indigo Warrior says:

    Yikes! $6 million for 2×150 kids? That works out to $20,000 per head!

    Which is probably more than the total amount what Washington State spends on gifted education. (I looked, but couldn’t find any budget figures. Help would be appreciated here.) If the “potential dropouts” committed crimes, then lock them in prison, and don’t bother with the pretense of education. Otherwise, let them be.

  5. It’s worth the $20 million. It makes it quite clear that dropping out is a sign of failure and a choice people must be punished for making. It deflects criticism addressing why they can’t keep potential drop outs engaged or don’t have reasonable and respectful alternatives for people who don’t do well in a school setting. Worth it’s weight in political buck-passing gold in my opinion.

    Disclosure; I come from a familiy of drop-outs who left school, went on with their lives and did quite well. I didn’t drop out myself…Didn’t have the kahunas.

  6. In contrast, I wonder how Washington State funds it G&T programs. Bet it’s not 9 million per kid.

    “We opened up a toughlove program and only one kid showed up”


    “We opened up a G&T program and we had to turn students away.”

    It’s obvious, keep spending money on those that not only can’t but also don’t care and are unmotivated. Makes perfect sense.

    The conclusion that will be drawn will be that they need to spend more money on publicity to attract students to this program or get other government agencies involved.

  7. Indigo Warrior says:

    I fail to see how being a “dropout” is, or should be treated as, a crime. If anything, the State is committing a crime, in forcibly conscripting children into schools. Not all dropouts are useless bums. Edison, Einstein, Ford, Gates … whatever you may think of their character, they were all successful. Even the bona-fide bums are doing themselves, society, and the taxpayers a favor by having enough common sense to realize that school is not for them, and continued schooling would be a waste of resources.

  8. He was the sole object of attention for 45 staff members and teachers.

    The unadmitted goal of class-size reduction proponents.

  9. So, did this kid graduate?

  10. Indigo Warrior says:

    Or was he shot trying to escape?