Dropouts & Graduates - Jails or Jobs?

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The end of the school year typically turns education coverage toward the topic of high school graduation.

But what about those who don't march to Pomp and Circumstance?

According to experts the nation's high school class of 2010 is short about one million graduates. That's the estimated number of studentswho enter high school as freshman, yet fail to graduate as seniors four yearslater. Put another, experts calculate that about 7,000 students drop out ofhigh school every day.http://www.all4ed.org/files/GraduationRates_FactSheet.pdf

The cost of not finishing high school is staggering, bothsocially and economically. Minorities, and in particular African-Americanmales, are disproportionately represented in dropout numbers. Here are some angles and resources to think about that could help you explore the nation's dropout crisis.

African Americans had the lowest graduation rate, with just 50 percent completing high school in four years.http://www.aypf.org/publications/WhateverItTakes/WIT_nineseconds.pdf In California, the largest state in the nation, African-American males had a 54.3 graduation rate - the lowest in the state for the 2006-2007 school year. http://cdrp.ucsb.edu/dropouts/pubs_statbriefs.htm

This story has consequences beyond the population immediately impacted. It is also more than an education story. America's hi-tech economy means the days of being able to leave high school without a diploma and gain employment with strong, steady wages in a factory are no more. Dropouts face low wage positions, which can often lack health care and do little to contribute to our tax base. This is critical as states and municipalities across the country struggle with deficits.

Accordingto a report done by the Alliance for Excellent Education "The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High School" The nation will lose more than $319 billion in lost wages from dropouts of the Class of 2008 during the course of their lifetimes.

A report presented last year by researchers at Northeastern University found that male dropouts of all races were 47 times more liked to be jailed than their college graduate peers. The rate for Black males was staggering with "23 of every 100 young Black male dropouts were in jail on any given day in 2006-07 compared to only 6 to 7 of every 100 Asian, Hispanic or White dropouts."http://www.clms.neu.edu/publication/documents/The_Consequences_of_Dropping_Out_of_High_School.pdf

One result may be that not only have we lost wages, but we are picking up the cost of incarceration. Looking at the costs side by side could be an interesting story to go with the annual graduation package.

There is no uniform method of tracking dropouts. This often creates situations in which the numbers are underreported. http://www.dropoutprevention.org/stats/docs/Understanding_High_School_Graduation_Rates.pdf

The dropout rate is most severe in 200 to 300 schools 35 of the nation's largest cities. The states with most acute situations are California and Texas. In California the situation is critical in the cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Long Beach and San Jose. The Texas cities of concern are San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, Austin and El Paso.http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/features/conf01132001.html

 

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