Posts Tagged ‘high school dropouts’

High school graduates grow our economy

Tuesday, July 20th, 2010

We’ve often talked about how Alabama’s high school dropout rate hinders economic development. Developers look for skilled workers when choosing new work sites.

An under-educated workforce is bad not only for recruiting new business, but for growing all sectors of the economy. High school graduates have increased earnings potential throughout their lifetime, and a high school education is correlated with better health and other positive outcomes.

America’s Promise Alliance recently released a report quantifying the economic impact of increasing  high school graduates in a metro area. Some outcomes include increased home sales, increased tax revenues, job growth due to consumer spending, and increased economic investment. Their message: investing in young people today pays off in the future.

View the full discussion here:

WEBINAR: The Economic Benefits of Reducing the Dropout Rate Among Students of Color in the Nation’s Largest Metropolitan Areas

Posted by Robyn Hyden

32% of persistently impoverished children stay poor into adulthood

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Children born into poverty are more likely to have negative outcomes and remain in poverty into early adulthood, according to a study released by the Urban Institute.

Nearly half of kids born into poverty will remain persistently poor throughout childhood, meaning they spend at least half of their childhood at or below the poverty line.

And 32 percent of persistently poor children will remain impoverished into adulthood. They are also more likely to become unwed teenaged parents, drop out of high school, or have a spotty employment record – all of which significantly impact their economic status.

“Because poverty status at birth is linked to worse adult outcomes, targeting resources to children born into poverty and their families would help particularly vulnerable people,” the authors of the study note. In Alabama, 22% of Alabama children live in poverty, and over 1 in 10 live in extreme poverty.

And we still have a racial divide: “Black children are roughly 2.5 times more likely than white children to ever experience poverty and 7 times more likely to be persistently poor.”

What can you do?

Posted by Robyn Hyden

A chicken-and-egg conundrum?

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The Alabama Select Commission on High School Graduation and Student Dropouts recently made recommendations to reduce our high school drop out rate, which currently stands at over 40 percent.   Those recommendations included:

  • tracking students at-risk for dropping out
  • creating a positive, pro-learning climate that reflects multiple learning styles
  • establishing recovery academies for dropouts who would like to complete their education
  • changing disciplinary measures to encourage positive behavior, not dropping out

Why does the drop out rate matter? Well, as the Montgomery Advertiser editorial board noted,

The fiscal cost of such a high dropout rate is staggering – billions of dollars in lost income potential over the lifetimes of dropouts, with corresponding losses in tax revenue. But more importantly the human cost is incalculable, a terrible toll in stunted human potential, in lives far less productive and satisfying than they might have been.

Larry Lee’s Daily Yonder Piece, “Two Counties and the Difference Education Makes,” has an interesting take on this issue, particularly its impact on rural Alabama.  As Larry points out, there is a chicken-and-egg conundrum: if rural students get a high school diploma, they are more likely to go off to college, move away and find a job elsewhere – a rural brain drain. Yet if students are undereducated, the county is less able to attract economic development. And what incentive do students have to pursue higher education if there are no jobs for them?

We frequently write about how Alabama’s low educational attainment hinders economic development, as shown in this Southern Education Foundation report “High School Dropouts: Alabama’s Number One Education and Economic Problem,” or this National Report Card on Higher Education, which states,

Alabama’s underperformance in educating its young population could limit the state’s access to a competitive workforce and weaken its economy over time…[these trends] undermine the state’s ability to compete successfully in a global economy.

Alabama needs jobs. And to attract employers, Alabama needs higher levels of college graduation. But first and foremost, we have to fix our high school dropout epidemic.

How can you help? The best way to make an impact – and something that many of us already do – is to mentor a child or young adult. Reach out to students in your community, your church, and your neighborhood. Provide encouragement and support. Mentoring doesn’t need to be formal, although you can connect with an at-risk child through programs such as Big Brothers, Big Sisters. Mentoring is a small thing that goes a long way towards helping our schools and our teachers support Alabama’s students.

For more insight into the high school dropout crisis nationwide and its economic impact, see this excellent post from Compassion in Politics. For more resources on mentoring, visit our resource page.

Posted by Robyn Hyden