Obama's proposal sends an important message to youths and their families: "You are no longer invisible. We see you, we invest in you and we expect you to contribute in a positive way to yourself and to your future."
Many students drop out because of academic failure, behavioral problems, and life issues, but many more students stay in school but drop out in their heads, gradually disengaging from what the schools have to offer.
There are no silver bullets to solve the dropout crisis and blunt instruments often go too far. But when President Obama in his State of the Union address urged states to raise the legal dropout age, we cheered.
There are more than 100,000 school counselors in our middle and high schools. Yet, they are among the least strategically deployed education professionals and are almost entirely missing from our education reform debates.
We must fight to protect proven programs such as the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program. They offer an invaluable tool to our children who need a little more guidance and structure to help them grow into adults who can be competitive in today's workforce.
No jobs package, no matter the size or the immediate impact, is complete without the public education reforms that are essential to ensuring that our students graduate ready to enter the 21st century workforce.