20 May The Dropout epidemic
My daughter who is graduating from high school this month announced to me that many of her friends are not. Tonight my husband and I took our boys and their friends to a movie and saw one of our girls’ friends. She works at the theater. She had played junior varsity soccer with one of my girls and ran track with the other. I asked what she was doing. “I’m not sure. I got my GED, and I’m just figuring things out.” What the heck?!
Since when did high school graduation become an option? It is an option for so many high school students these days that I can’t help but worry for their future. They have no desire to do anything. They’re content to stay home and play hours of video games or stick with a minimum hour wage paying job and live with Mom and Dad for the rest of their lives. One of my daughter’s friends who is also not going to graduate, lives with her mother who gives her a $200/week allowance. This same girl has no job, doesn’t want a job, swears at her mother, does no chores around the house to help her mother, and just recently used her allowance to get a couple of tattoos. Are you afraid for the welfare of the next generation? I am.
Suzanne W. Morse, President of Pew Partnership for Civic Change and Founder of Learning to Finish says this:
“Despite repeated assertions on the part of leaders in all sectors about the importance of addressing the dropout situation, the problem today is more acute than ever. Recent reports indicate that nationally about one-third of all students who enter high school do not graduate on time if ever. Some 2,500 students leave high school every day.
For the one million or so students who drop out each year, the prospects are dire. For the communities in which they live, the dropout rate is very bad news indeed. Each year, the toll of lost wages, taxes and productivity that can be attributed to dropouts comes to more than $200 billion for the nation as a whole. That does not take into account the fact that more than two-thirds of the inmates in state prisons are school dropouts.”
I realize that not all high school students are like this. In my neighborhood, there are also kids who are beginning college as sophomores because they have taken AP classes and have successfully passed their AP tests. Some even have scholarships. However, the ratio of kids who are going to college weighed against those who are not even graduating high school is alarmingly low.
For many of my daughter’s friends, they haven’t seen their own parents graduate and so for them, they don’t care if they graduate or not. Some kids get pregnant, and drop out. Others say they flat out do not like school and don’t get along with their teachers or peers. Others feel the need to drop out and obtain minimum wage paying work to help out with the bills at home. On the other hand, some of this makes me wonder if parents are part of the problem. Are we doing too much for our kids and not giving them the drive to leave home to pursue a good-paying job by way of a college education or trade school? What is it that is making these kids so apathetic towards education?
The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network lists five reasons to stay in school:
- High school dropouts are four times as likely to be unemployed as those who have completed four or more years of college;
- Graduating from high school will determine how well you live for the next 50 years of your life. High school graduates earn $143 more per week than high school dropouts. College graduates earn $336 more per week than high school graduates ($479 more per week than high school dropouts);
- Dropouts are more likely to apply for and receive public assistance than graduates of high school;
- Dropouts comprise a disproportionate percentage of the nation’s prison and death row inmates. 82% of prisoners in America are high school dropouts;
- School districts all over the country provide alternative programs for students who are not successful in the usual school setting.
If only these kids could see 20 years down the road to what their life would be like both with and without education. They would definitely see that long-term, education is the easier and better choice.