‘High School Dropout Crisis’ Continues in U.S., Study Says

CNN, May 5, 2009

Nearly 6.2 million mostly black and Latino young people have dropped out of high school, fueling what a report released Tuesday 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, said the report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Alternative Schools Network in Chicago, Illinois. Among the dropouts, 60.1 percent were men, 30.1 percent were Latino and 18.8 percent were black.

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Researchers for the study analyzed the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Surveys, household data from the Current Population Survey, national data on GED certificate awards and other official sources to examine the problem at the national level and in the nation’s 12 largest states: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

The problem affects the entire nation but hits men, blacks and Hispanics particularly hard, the study shows.

“As these data show, this dropout crisis is disproportionately affecting America’s communities of color,” said Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League. “Youth from all communities deserve an equal chance at educational success.”

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.

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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.

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[Editor’s Note: “‘Left Behind In America: The Nation’s Dropout Crisis’ A Report By The Center For Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston, Month Day [sic], 2007” can be read on-line here, or downloaded as a PDF file here.]

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