Duncan: AmeriCorps will help failing schools

AmeriCorps volunteers will help raise graduation rates at the nation’s worst schools, said Education Secretary Arne Duncan. With $15 million in federal funding, the School Turnaround AmeriCorps will send 650 members into 60 schools.

Duncan said AmeriCorps members will improve school safety, attendance and discipline, help students improve their reading and math skills and increase college enrollment by helping students and their parents apply for financial aid.

AmeriCorps members must be 18 to 24 years old. They don’t have to be high school graduates, much less college graduates. They get a subsistence wage, plus college aid or help paying student loans. It’s hard to believe they’ll be effective tutors, though perhaps they could patrol the halls and restrooms.

High school dropouts are costing some $1.8 billion in lost tax revenue every year, estimates a new report, which foresees a 90 percent graduation rate by 2020.

It’s not that simple, education economist Henry Levin tells the Huffington Post. “It’s like saying, if my 3-foot-tall child were 6 feet tall, my child would be able to do all sorts of things.”

Or, as they used to say: If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

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Comments

  1. My daughter’s school had the opportunity to have an Americorp volunteer placed at the school. The focus was to be on helping tutor reading. It was part of a district wide program to help schools that didn’t have high enough poverty rates to receive title one help (most of the schools had 40-60% of students qualify for free and reduced lunch). After the first year, the principal declined to participate in the program.

  2. Joanne, I agree with your assessment, but I am confused.
    AmeriCorps volunteers .. wait are they volunteers? Why are they paid a wage, help with college aid and loan help?
    How exactly are these volunteers going to help graduation rates? Did I miss that part?
    “Duncan said AmeriCorps members will improve school safety, attendance and discipline, help students improve their reading and math skills and increase college enrollment by helping students and their parents apply for financial aid.” – How is this going to happen? Parent applying for financial aid for what? I though these students are not graduating so what financial aid are they applying for again?
    Throw a bunch of bodies at a problem and expect good results? These AmeriCorps young adults did not have to graduate high school and/or college. Is that a positive role model for these students who are not graduating high school?
    I agree with Henry Levin.

  3. Before you pile on too strongly here, keep in mind that specific Americorps slots can require specific qualifications. These volunteers might be older adults who have graduated from HS or college. I agree that helping students through the FAFSA process is probably beyond these folks — I know it would be pretty hard for me, and I’ve been through it 3 times! Wiser heads will prevail on that one.