Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Economic stimulus? High school diplomas

The Alliance for Excellent Education has a new brief out documenting the costs of high school dropouts, and it has some intriguing statistics about the Carolinas. For instance, if the nearly 46,700 students who didn't graduate from N.C. high schools in 2009 had gotten that diploma, the state could have benefitted from more than $12 billion in income they would receive over their lifetime.

Not only that, North Carolina would save more than $491.6 million in health care costs over the lifetimes of each class of dropouts had they earned their diplomas. If North Carolina’s high schools graduated all of their students ready for college, the state would save almost $97.4 million a year in community college remediation costs and lost earnings. Also, North Carolina’s economy would see a combination of crime-related savings and additional revenue of about $233 million each year if the male high school graduation rate increased by just 5 percent.

South Carolina had fewer dropouts this, about 21,900 students, with lost lifetime earnings of nearly $5.7 billion. But the cost of dropouts is still significant. South Carolina would save more than $320.1 million in health care costs over the lifetimes of each class of dropouts had they earned their diplomas. If South Carolina’s high schools graduated all of their students ready for college, the state would save almost $54.3 million a year in community college remediation costs and lost earnings. And South Carolina’s economy would see a combination of crime-related savings and additional revenue of about $151 million each year if the male high school graduation rate increased by just 5 percent.

“As these findings show, the best economic stimulus is a high school diploma,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia. “Given the tremendous financial drag these dropouts will have on North Carolina’s economy, it is imperative that the state, as well as the federal government, focus attention on students most at risk of dropping out if it is to achieve long-term economic stability. In an Information Age economy, education is the main currency.”

Nationwide, more than seven thousand students become dropouts every school day. Annually, that adds up to almost 1.3 million students who will not graduate from high school with their peers as scheduled.“Unless America’s high schools significantly improve their graduation rates,” Wise noted, “nearly 13 million students will drop out over the next decade with a massive loss to the nation of $3 trillion.”

Sounds like a wake-up call, doesn't it?
"The High Cost of High School Dropouts: What the Nation Pays for Inadequate High Schools" is available at http://www.all4ed.org/files/HighCost.pdf. Info about the high school dropout crisis in individual states is at http://www.all4ed.org/about_the_crisis/schools/state_cards.

3 comments:

zanesfriend said...

On the other hand, as a former HS teacher I remember students who were physically in school but had mentally and emotionally dropped out long ago. They were at best taking up space and at worst were disrupting the process for students who still wanted to learn.

There should be some provision for, after a certain age, allowing students to take a leave of absence; once they find out what kind of life--or lack thereof--one can make for oneself without even a HS diploma, they can come back more motivated.

John said...

If anything, the study shows that we must work at changing the perception of computer scientists, rather than changing anything about the field itself. high school diploma | Online World History course

sf said...

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