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Charters and Choice

How can we give students options when their public schools are failing them?

Overview

Candidate Perspectives

College Access

College: Can't afford not to go, can't afford to go...

Overview

Candidate Perspectives

 

The Dropout Dilemma

What are the real costs of dropping out?

Overview

Candidate Perspectives

No Child Left Behind

What exactly is NCLB and how is it effecting our education system?

Overview

Pros and Cons

What's Next?

Candidate Perspectives

Early Childhood Education

How do we ensure that all children are prepared to enter kindergarten?

Overview

In Focus: Head Start

Candidate Perspectives

Teachers

Why are we struggling to recruit and retain teachers? What reforms do the candidates propose to solve the teacher shortage and improve their working conditions?

Overview

Candidate Perspectives

School-to-Work

With a struggling economy, should lawmakers place further emphasis on federally-funded school-to-work programs? Moreover, do they work?

Overview

Candidate Perspectives

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The Dropout Dilemma

“I haven't finished high school. I don't have a diploma. I don't have a job. I am broke… You can't make it without that. You can't go anywhere, for real, on the legal side… If you go to school, get your diploma, you can do more things the right way. You might succeed.”
---A 19-year-old from Philadelphia

 

guy with head on desk
         
  Every 26 seconds a student drops out of public school  

High school drop out rates are at unacceptable proportions across the US, especially in large cities. Based on the 2003-2004 class, only 70 % of students nationwide, and in our 50 largest cities only 52% of students, graduated. Additionally, according to the American Youth Policy Forum, in 2004, 22% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 had not graduated from high school. While there is no universal cause for what is fast becoming an epidemic, certain factors can be highlighted and agreed upon by both experts and dropouts themselves. According to polls of recent dropouts, the leading issues contributing to their actions were:

Chart of top five reasons for dropping out of school

Respondents also cited the following factors:
70% said that they were not motivated or inspired to work hard.
32% said they had to get a job and make money.
26% said they became a parent.
22% said that they had to care for a family member.
45% said they started high school poorly prepared by earlier schooling.
41% said lack of parental involvement (these respondents said that their parents were not involved in their schooling whatsoever. Furthermore, more than half of those were involved mainly only for disciplinary reasons).

 

Personal Consequences

 
 

3,000 plus students call it quits everyday. While dropping out may seem like a reasonable option to many high school students, a recent survey of dropouts from the Philadelphia area revealed that the majority felt remorse for their decision to leave high school and said that they would go back if they could. At the time of their decision, these respondents failed to recognize the personal consequences at stake. The most obvious of these consequences is the stark contrast between their incomes and the incomes of those more educated. Those who drop out are three times as likely to be unemployed as a college graduate.

Additionally, a high school dropout makes about $9,000 less annually than the typical high school graduate and about $35,000 less annually than a typical college graduate. Over the course of a lifetime, this difference creates a gap of about 1.6 million in earnings between dropouts and college graduates. This factor also contributes to general quality of life, as dropouts are twice as likely to live below the poverty line.

Furthermore, in addition to perpetual funding shortages, failure to graduate severely limits career options, as well as the number of jobs available to a particular individual. As today’s job market becomes more and more competitive, a growing number of higher-lever jobs are mandating at least a high school diploma (if not a GED or Master’s Degree) as a pre-requisite for applying. While many may not know it in their adolescence, both monetary and long-term career success are contingent upon graduation from high school. Measures must be taken to ensure that today’s students are not plagued with regret, poverty, and less-than fulfilling careers, but rather with the success and social benefits that come with a high school diploma.

Dollers

 
  Social Consequences  
 

It is estimated that in the next decade America will lose 3 trillion dollars as a result of dropouts. Not only are there personal costs to each individual who drops out of high school, but social costs as well. Indeed, society is losing a valuable, fully contributing member each time a student decides to drop out. Dropouts end up costing our communities in the form of governmental assistance, jailing charges, and crime and drug money. 40% of young people without a high school diploma received some type of government assistance in 2001, and at the rate students are quitting high school, dropouts are costing the government billions upon billions of dollars. America could also save more than $17 billion annually in Medicaid and health care for the uninsured by graduating all students.

Furthermore, statistics show that high school dropouts are 8 times more likely to end up in jail or prison than those who graduate. As the cost for each person who drops out of high school and assumes a life of drugs and/or crime is roughly $2 million, the U.S. government is responsible for footing the roughly $90 billion annual bill. As long as we fail to address the dropout crisis, the communal cost of supporting them will continue to rise. Additionally, not only are dropouts reducing the productivity of their communities, but studies show that they are less engaged in civic activity than are high school graduates. These studies also show that graduates live longer and raise happier, better educated children. Thus, multiple generations are effected by each individual’s decision to drop out of high school. Our society must remedy this issue for its own sake, lest it continue to reap the consequences of its inadequate educational system.

 
 

For More Info:

 
 

http://www.all4ed.org/files/HighCost.pdf
http://www.silentepidemic.org
http://www.gatesfoundation.org/nr/downloads/ed/thesilentepidemic3-06final.pdf
http://www.americaspromise.org
http://www.americaspromise.org/uploadedFiles/AmericasPromiseAlliance/Dropout_Crisis/SWANSONCitiesInCrisis040108.pdf

 
  See Candidate Perspectives on this issue