How Hard Is It To Pass High School?

A reader writes:

As a high school and community college teacher of sixteen years, I can assure Mr. Joyner that it is absolutely getting harder for more and more sixteen year olds to stay a year or two more to finish.  I teach in a college town in the midwest where education is valued on the whole.  Yet, more and more of my students from lower income homes are either the sole economic provider for the home or are a major contributor to the economic stability/instability of the home.  They work countless hours through the week.  Their classwork and homework suffers.  They sleep in class.  They find "traditional" coursework boring compared to the immediate needs and demands of a weak economy, their economic lot in life, and a lack of effective and efficient alternate means to complete a diploma.

Another reader:

Does Joyner realize that most students that drop out are years behind in school by the time they drop out?  People do not drop out because they are being intentionally irresponsible (well most of them) they drop out because they cannot read.  And most of the time their problems start before they are 10.  So Joyner is willing to condemn a whole group of people as irresponsible for schooling issues they had when they were 10 or younger?  Certainly by the time you are 16 or 17 you should take some responsibility for your decisions.  But the problem is that those students that are making irresponsible decisions at 16 or 17 are making the decisions based on their inadequate (to that point) education.  Students that are on grade level virtually never drop out.