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More Bad News About School Dropouts

A new report issued by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago, Illinois indicated that nearly 6.2 million mostly black and Latino young people have dropped out of high school in what the report called “a persistent high school dropout crisis.”

In 2007, 16 percent of U.S. residents between 16 and 24 years old were high school dropouts. Among the dropouts, 60.1 percent were men, 30.1 percent were Latino and 18.8 percent were black.

Among the findings in the report, “Left Behind in America: The Nation’s Dropout Crisis:”
Nearly one in five U.S. men between the ages of 16 and 24 (18.9 percent) were dropouts in 2007.
Nearly three of 10 Latinos, including recent immigrants, were dropouts (27.5 percent).
More than one in five blacks had dropped out of school (21 percent). The dropout rate for whites was 12.2 percent.
The dropout situation at the state level was similarly widespread:
More than one in 10 people ages 16 to 24 years old had dropped out of high school in each of the 12 states surveyed.
More than one in five 16- to 24-year-olds were dropouts in Florida and Georgia.
California had the most dropouts of any state (710,000), with a 14.4 percent dropout rate among 16- to 24-year-olds.
Georgia had the highest dropout rate for this population at 22.1 percent.

The report goes on to note: “Americans without a high school diploma have considerably lower earning power and job opportunities in today’s workforce. Over a working lifetime from ages 18-64, high school dropouts are estimated to earn $400,000 less than those that graduated from high school. For males, the lifetime earnings loss is nearly $485,000 and exceeds $500,000 in many large states. Due to their lower lifetime earnings and other sources of market incomes, dropouts will contribute far less in federal, state and local taxes than they will receive in cash benefits, in-kind transfers and correctional costs. Over their lifetimes, this will impose a net fiscal burden on the rest of society.
“By contrast, adults with high school diplomas contribute major fiscal benefits to the country over their lifetime. The combined lifetime fiscal benefits — including the payment of payroll, federal, and state income taxes — could amount to more than $250,000 per graduated student. Such a public fiscal benefit more than outweighs the estimated cost of enrolling a student who has dropped out.”

What amazes me is that the report has not attracted major national headlines. If this were the swine flu or any other major catastrophe, the media and politicians would have been all over it demanding that money and other resources need to be put in place to eradicate the problem. I realize that the economy needs to dominate the news, But that, hopefully is a short term problem. The failure to invest in people is a major long-term problem.

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