A new report by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University looks at how many prison inmates are high school dropouts.
I doubt anyone will be surprised that the study — The Consequences of Dropping Out of High School — documents high incarceration rates among dropouts.
The study found that:
The incidence of institutionalization problems among young high school dropouts was more than 63 times higher than among young four year college graduates.
Nearly 1 of every 10 young male high school dropouts was institutionalized on a given day in 2006-2007 versus fewer than 1 of 33 high school graduates, 1 of 100 of those out-of-school young men who completed 1-3 years of post-secondary schooling, and only 1 of 500 men who held a bachelor’s or higher degree.
The nation’s young high school dropouts in 2006-2007 were nearly four times as likely as their peers with a bachelor’s or higher academic degree to be living in a family with an annual money income below 125% of the poverty line.
The average high school dropout will cost taxpayers over $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and imposed incarceration costs relative to an average high school graduate.
In its finding on the cost of dropouts to the rest of us, the study makes a strong argument for better funding of dropout prevention efforts. But I don’t think anyone is in the mood right now to fund new programs.
So what can be done at current funding levels? At a recent UGA conference, a researcher explained the need of connections and relationships to keep kids in high school. (The research on college dropouts says the same thing.)
But I think forming close relationships with potential dropouts is hard for teachers. These are the kids who don’t show up for class, who don’t respond to the teacher’s efforts and who bog down the class. In my classroom experience, it seems much more likely that teachers will bond with the kids who try in class and who make the teacher feel effective and competent.
Are the Georgia graduation coaches — a friend of mine calls them “paid cheerleaders” – able to reach prospective dropouts and form real connections? Or are there too many future dropouts and too few coaches?