One of the biggest issues in America is the increasing rate of student drop outs.
More than 7,000 students drop out of school in America each day. Approximately one million students fail to receive a high school diploma each year. Four out of 10 dropouts receive some kind of government assistance and are eight times more likely to become incarcerated. The annual cost to educate a student is $ 9,644. The annual cost to incarcerate a person is $22,600. These alarming statistics, compiled by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), expose a national crisis.
Claudio Sanchez, NPR’s education correspondent, explained the relevance of addressing the American dropout rate. He said, “A high school dropout, according to the latest statistics, will earn $200,000 less than a high school graduate over his or her lifetime, and almost $1million less than a college graduate. The unemployment rate for dropouts right now is anywhere from 15 to 18 percent, double what it is for high school graduates. It represents just an enormous loss of human potential.”
The unemployment rate does not only affect the unemployed. When asked how the dropout rate correlates to tax dollars, Sanchez highlighted that estimates are “anywhere from $320 billion to $350 billion to taxpayers. That’s in lost wages, taxable income, health, welfare, incarceration costs.”
On May 3, 2011 CPB launched a significant public media initiative to help address and improve America’s high school graduation rate.
CPB announced, “Recognizing a need to help students stay on path to graduation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, with participation from PBS, America’s Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is announcing an initiative program, American Graduate, to combat the dropout crisis in this country.”
Local radio and television stations are at the center of the initiative. WHRO Public Media received a grant from the American Graduate initiative in order to facilitate its resources and services to help develop a communal consciousness and lower the dropout rate of the area.
Hampton Roads has one of the highest high school dropout rates in Virginia. According to the Virginia Department of Education, Norfolk is the lowest performing district in Hampton Roads.. The district has a division dropout rate of 15.3 percent and an on time graduation rate of 73.6 percent.
Zachary Rubin, a senior at Old Dominion University, is completing his student teaching, which requires him to teach seven weeks in a high school and seven weeks in a middle school. Rubin was first assigned to Maury High School in Norfolk and is currently teaching at Brandon Middle School in Virginia Beach
When asked what differences existed between the two school districts, he emphasized how disproportionately underequipped Norfolk public schools (NPS) are. One example, he explained, is the NPS paper limit.
“Teachers in Norfolk are given one box of paper per month, whereas teachers in Virginia Beach have no limitation on paper use. This may seem like a miniscule detail, but printed materials are a staple in every classroom and having to ration supplies forces an educator to alter their lesson plans accordingly,” said Rubin.
With the presidential elections fast approaching, many Americans are holding the state of the economy as the most pressing issue.
Rubin said, “Educated workers are the foundation for economic prosperity. In order to see economic growth, America needs individuals who are not dependent on tax dollars but rather contributing to tax revenues.”
By: Isabel Agosto