America's Dropout Crisis

Dropout-Cover-300x200.jpg America's Promise Alliance, warns that, "Before today ends, another 3,000 students will drop out of high school and before the year ends, more than one million will have left school. We don’t have a dropout problem; we have a dropout crisis." In a report by the same name, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation calls the crisis the "silent epidemic," and states that, "Each year, almost one third of all public high school students - and nearly one half of all blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans - fail to graduate from public high school with their class. Many of these students abandon school with less than two years to complete their high school education." The report points out the inherent dangers associated with dropping out of high school: "Dropouts are much more likely than their peers who graduate to be unemployed, living in poverty, receiving public assistance, in prison, on death row, unhealthy, divorced, and single parents with children who drop out from high school themselves. Our communities and nation also suffer from the dropout epidemic due to the loss of productive workers and the higher costs associated with increased incarceration, health care and social services."

A large part of the problem in addressing America's dropout crisis is in the fact that there is very little public awareness of the issue. America's Promise is trying to change that by holding "dropout summits" in communities across the nation. the Alliance is supporting over 100 state and community dropout prevention summits to be held by 2010. These summits will increase awareness, encourage collaboration and facilitate action in those states and communities that want to improve their graduation rates.

According to America's Promise, the Dropout Prevention Summits will:

"--Increase public awareness of the dropout crisis
--Secure commitment for integrated collaboration between the corporate, private, public and school sectors
--Engage schools and provide exposure to strengthen and support their efforts to help disadvantage youth
--Identify and inspire local leadership to get involved in community-school initiatives.
--Mobilize leaders around the Alliance’s three National Action Strategies

In addition, the dropout prevention summits will bring attention to high-need populations, create a place for topical discussions which will lead to the development of an action plan, build upon existing local education reform efforts and provide opportunities to influence local, state and federal policy.

These summits are more than a single event; they are part of a national call to action on behalf of the America's Promise Alliance for states and communities to outline clear actionable steps that will significantly improve the graduation rate."

Check to see if there is a summit coming to your community, and check it out. America's Promise also suggests other things we can do to help address this issue, including:

Review the 10-Point Plan for Graduation Success presented in the Silent Epidemic Report from Civic Enterprises and work with a variety of groups in your community and/or state as a catalyst to host a summit in your area.
Find out what it takes to plan a successful summit in your area.
Determine your local graduation rate using Editorial Projects in Education Research Center’s online mapping tool.

Caroline Heine

Posted at 6:41 AM, Aug 06, 2008 in Permalink | Comment