Cities in Crisis

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has been leading both the conversation regarding and the efforts to combat the crisis of high school dropouts in America for many years now. I became aware of the enormity of the situation while working for GivingNet, Inc., on a project we were hoping to partner with the Gates Foundation on called ScholarBridge--an Internet-based matching system pairing donors with students wanting to go to colllege. Ultimately, neither the project nor GivingNet survived, but the crisis dropout crisis remains.

In March 2006, the Gates Foundaton released its report on the dropout crisis called, "The Silent Epidemic." That report informed us 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."

In our research at GivingNet, we noted that, "A college education continues to be a great investment for every American. The average college graduate earns more than $1,000,000 more over the course of a career than the average high school graduate. Similarly, a system of affordable higher education benefits states and the federal government. College graduates contribute to a strong civil society by voting and serving the community in higher numbers than non-college graduates. In addition, they contribute to a strong economic base by driving innovation and expanding the tax base. It is also the case that jobs requiring a college degree are the fastest growing sector of the U.S. economy. "

Nonetheless, a new report by the America's Promise Alliance and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation titled, "Cities in Crisis," confirms that, " Whereas the conventional wisdom had long placed the graduation rate around 85 percent, a growing consensus has emerged that only about seven in 10 students are actually successfully finishing high school. Graduation rates are even lower among certain student populations, particularly racial and ethnic minorities and males." In fact, the study shows that in our nation's largest cities, the problem is much worse than even this:

"Our analysis finds that graduating from high school in the America’s largest cities amounts, essentially, to a coin toss. Only about one-half (52 percent) of students in the principal school systems of the 50 largest cities complete high school with a diploma. That rate is well below the national graduation rate of 70 percent, and even falls short of the average for urban districts across the country (60 percent). Only six of these 50 principal districts reach or exceed the national average. In the most extreme cases (Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, and Indianapolis), fewer than 35 percent of students graduate with a diploma."

America's Promise has joined the fight against the high school dropout crisis. Find out what you can do to help.

Caroline Heine

Posted at 6:00 AM, Sep 03, 2008 in Permalink | Comments (1)


I work for Olympic Behavior Labs and the National Dropout prevention Center. We have a Dropout Early Warning System that will track 24/7 students from elementary thru High School. It will put an end to the dropout problem. Why wait until high school to do something about it - it is too late by then.
We need to intervene early on - do something about the problem by 3rd grade.
If a student only reads at 4th grade level by the time they enter high school - it is a dropout waiting to happen.

Posted by: Gary Kautz