If students fail to complete high school and receive their diploma, many bad things will happen to them. Nationwide, about 70% of high school students do graduate, while 30% fail to make the grade.
Over the course of their lifetimes, high school graduates earn as much as twice as those who drop out. A little-addressed fact of government spending and deficit reduction are the estimated savings in government aid if large numbers of dropouts complete their high school education. As much as $1 trillion over a decade could be saved if 700,000 of today's dropouts could be convinced to stay in school and finish.
The dropout problem has been going on for years. In 2006, the Los Angeles Times covered the graduation of the class of 2005 at Birmingham High School in Van Nuys, where less than half of the 1,100 freshmen who entered four years earlier ended up graduating. Instead of pat excuses, the article covered the factual reasons for dropping out. Some students failed to pass classes, being pushed from grade to grade, but without credits to graduate. Eventually, they were sent to alternative or adult school, but most just dropped out.
Other young women became pregnant and dropped out to have their babies and start life as young mothers on aid. Only 40% of teen mothers end up getting their high school diploma, according to the March of Dimes.
After going down for a number of years, the birth rate among teen mothers started to increase again in 2006. Almost 89% of teen girls who had not had a baby graduated from high school or received a GED. Only half of teen moms went on to get a diploma or GED.
Anywhere between 60 and 75% of babies born to teen moms live in poverty.
How about other stuff? Like . . . incarceration?
A 2009 study sponsored by the Center for Labor Market Studies found that male high school dropouts had a 68-times (not percent - TIMES) greater chance of going to jail or prison than did men who had a 4-year college education. Nearly one out of 10 male high school dropouts is incarcerated in America. If, as a young student, a lot of these guys thought they'd get "freedom" by dropping out to do whatever they felt like doing each day, the freedom wasn't long-lived. They traded a classroom for a jail cell.
Many people think that the failure of the educational system is so widespread, we may have doomed an entire generation to nowhere lifestyles. Young men who don't graduate from high school are likely to have very low earnings and can easily end up incarcerated. Young women who don't graduate from high school are likely to find themselves and their children living a life of poverty and deprivation.
When does this start? Most kids who drop out do so between 8th and 9th, and 9th and 10th grades. But problems start at a much earlier age. A 2009 report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that if children aren't reading well by the end of third grade, they are much less (75%) likely to graduate from high school than those who are reading well.
According to results of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading test, a stunning 83% of children in low-income families, and 85% of children attending school in high-poverty areas nationwide failed to test as "proficient" in reading. The lack of proficiency was across the board, in large cities, rural and suburban areas. Half of these children couldn't even score at a "basic" reading level.
So, here are some facts that high school dropouts can look forward to:
- Lifetime earnings will be about half of those who graduate from high school.
- Three quarters of the single mom high school dropouts will live in poverty, and their children will, too.
- Young men who don't graduate from high school have a one in ten chance of being incarcerated . . . on any given day. They are 68 times more likely than male college graduates to serve time in prison.
- One third of high school dropouts will be obese.
- Three quarters of high school dropouts cannot even serve in the military to get GI benefits. They are either too unfit physically or too poorly-educated to qualify for military service.
So, we have a generation of parents who has now raised children who are too fat, too poorly-educated and too incapable to do anything but sit at home, or pursue activities that land them in jail or prison. Whose fault is it? If you're in high school and reading this for a report, it doesn't matter whose fault it is. You may be a teen, but you can take charge of your life. Don't be a statistic. Don't drop out of school.