Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the 'dropout factories' and the lack of funds for small charities.

Why are so many kids a part of the 'dropout factory'?

In response to Robert Balfanz and John Bridgeland's Nov. 23 Opinion piece, "A plan to fix 'dropout factories' ": Instead of fretting over the high school dropout rate, and devising schemes to get diplomas into more hands, perhaps we should rethink the ultimate goal of education. Is it a diploma? Shouldn't the goal be a happy, productive life?

If so many of our young people are bailing out of the traditional four-year high school experience, maybe we should listen to that message and find alternative ways of educating them, helping them build meaningful lives for themselves.

What is so magical and meaningful about the traditional American public high school?

John Stark
Bellingham, Wash.

In response to Mr. Balfanz and Mr. Bridgeland's piece about America's high dropout rate: Three years ago our middle school started a 10-year time capsule and eighth grade class reunion project. The goal is to actively focus students on their own futures from the day they enter middle school. Dallas is fighting a dropout rate of more than 45 percent.

A 350-pound vault is bolted to our middle school lobby floor in an obvious place of respect and under spotlights. It is our School Archive. All new students are told when they enter our school that the archive holds letters students write to themselves the last week of eighth-grade. Students place their own letter into the School Archive, where it stays until their class 10-year reunion.

At the reunion, alumni also know they will be invited to speak with then current students about recommendations for success.

Students are told to prepare for questions from the younger students, 10 years in the future, such as: "Would you do anything differently if you were 13 again?"

Thinking now of answering such a question helps students see current work differently, and stay in school.

That first class from 2005 is now in its junior year. Their class has 101 students more than last year's junior class. Something is working here!

Bill Betzen
Dallas

Small charities in need of large funds

Regarding the Nov. 19 article, "Needy get a small slice of charity": Thanks to the Monitor for this interesting article.

Another issue for small charitable groups, such as the one I represent (PCD Foundation, which focuses on a genetic disease), is corporate consolidation of their giving programs, that is, giving large sums to targeted charities rather than spreading the wealth.

This reinforces the bias toward giving to already established and well-funded groups. The current climate feels a lot like the corporate "merger" model – a few mammoth nonprofits doing well and everyone else struggling for survival.

This leaves a lot of significant and vital causes with inadequate funding.

It would be extremely helpful if large nonprofit funding organizations would create nonprofit programs designed to assist small nonprofits with development.

In our case, we have no celebrity endorser, no person of importance to bring attention to our cause.

We just have dedicated parents and medical professionals who understand the importance of the organization and who need help to make it grow.

It is a shame that in the nonprofit world, who you know is more important than the cause you represent.

Michele Manion
Phoenix

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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