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Tuition voucher program support has been withering under the Obama administration as it phases out the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program, a federally funded voucher program signed into law in 2004, has provided over 3,700 students in Washington, D.C., with scholarships to attend private schools. The administration's primary reasoning, it appears, has been strong union opposition to school vouchers.

"In our district, every four years we lose 45 percent of our students, Mr. Chairman," Western Heights (Okla.) Public Schools superintendent Joe Kitchens testified in April before a U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor hearing entitled "How Data Can Be Used to Inform Educational Outcomes." "We have to do something about this. We have to retool America's schools to deal with this issue of mobility," he urged the committee. Over the past five years, Kitchens and the administration of Western Heights have done just that.

When Manuel L. Isquierdo joined the Sunnyside (Ariz.) Unified School District (SUSD) as superintendent in 2007, school board president Louie Gonzales let him know that there was no time for a honeymoon period. He had to hit the ground running.

Kathy Cox, the superintendent of schools for Georgia, believes "excellence is not an accident."

She made a name for herself by winning $1 million proving she was smarter than a fifth-grader on a popular television show. And since her election in 2002, Cox has earned complaints and kudos for tackling testing and implementing new curriculum standards and graduation requirements for Georgia.

As she prepares for possible reelection next fall, she remains committed "to be part of the solution"— a promise she made to her students when she entered politics over a decade ago.

When students fail courses or drop out of school, it isn’t good for them or their districts, which are under federal and state mandates to improve test scores and graduation rates. With those mandates and about 1.2 million students dropping out each year—or one every 26 seconds—“there is more pressure today than ever to help students stay in school and graduate on time,” according to Susan Patrick, president and CEO of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning.


Mayoral control of public schools is nothing new. Boston pioneered the practice in 1992, replacing elected school committee members with mayoral appointees. Since then, a dozen urban districts—including Cleveland, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.—have undergone a similar change in school governance that has shifted some or most of the power to mayors, with some cities having mayors make appointments to the school board and others having mayors outright manage the district budget and spearhead large-scale initiatives.


In 2006, Secaida D. Howell was nearly the 10th superintendent in as many years to lead Bamberg School District Two in Denmark, S.C. He inherited antiquated policies, teacher certifications falling through the cracks, and waning student achievement.