Sunday, June 22, 2008

Graduation by 18

I would be very happy if Gary changes his mind, but right now he very much wants to graduate a year early. His birthday is in the fall and if he does he will, like Andrew, Carl, Evan and hundreds of other young people, spend most of his senior year being 18. That seems to him to be utterly unacceptable. Most of his friends are a year ahead of him and he wants to graduate at the same time.

For him it is not what it is for most kids in foster care: a belief, or reality, that they must be done before they are 18. In our state, as I believe most others, kids can stay in care until they are 19 if they are still in school. This is complicated by the fact that there may not be enough places for them. If a kid is in a stable foster home they may be welcome to stay. If they are in a group home or a treatment-level foster home rules may prevent them from staying past their birthday. So the state is on one hand obligated to support them and yet has no where appropriate for there to live.

What I have found is that the majority of state kids I have met believe they are required to leave by their birthday. I don't know if that belief is largely based upon not wanting to stay or if hte social workers really don't educate them.

At one point I really tried to educate the kids. I've seen though that that can backfire in some cases. That is largely what happened with David. He saw the sense of staying and finishing school. He just really, really didn't want to.

So if I was in charge of Gary's life I would definitely sign him up for three more years of high school. I think it would be good for him at so many levels, in so many ways. But he wants to graduate early and if we don't do what we need to help him do that, he may move out on his 18th birthday without a degree. I don't like it, but well, he may do it anyway. The biggest obstacle is completing 3 years of English in the remaining 2 years. The most obvious way of doing that is by taking one year of English on-line.

It is difficult to accept this. I want something different for him.

But I have learned at the very least that it does not work to push our plans onto kids.


  1. The school where I teach allows (or rather forces) students to "double dip". The student gives up an elecetive to take the missing core credit class during the year with the core credit class for that year. A junior can take junior english and sophomore english at the same time. It may be another option.

    If the student isn't very internally motivated, online courses can be very difficult. Especially for the parent who may have to become a professional nag.

  2. Gary though isn't behind, so he wouldn't be allowed to take two English classes. He would be a sophomore taking English 2 & 3.

    He wants to graduate at the end of his junior year.

  3. My oldest daughter graduated a year early. She approached teachers that knew her and asked if they would work an independent study class with her to allow her to do so. She did 11th and 12th grade English at the same tome, but one was on her own in independent study. She also worked American Government independently. In both cases the teachers allowed her to sit in the final with the senior class so the school would recognize the class and give her credit for it. It is also possible in our district to take an equivalent course at the junior college and the high school will give you credit for it.


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