Meanwhile, outside our ivory tower,

1/27/2012: things are *really* going to hell. From Susan Palmer in the RG:

The Springfield district also had a slight increase in the four-year graduation rate, up a point to 62 percent, even as one of its schools, Springfield High, saw its rate drop by almost 6 points. … The Bethel School District in west Eugene saw its overall graduation rate decline this year, to 57 percent from 62 percent.

And from an op-ed in the NYT:

Only 7 of 10 ninth graders today will get high school diplomas. A decade after the No Child Left Behind law mandated efforts to reduce the racial gap, about 80 percent of white and Asian students graduate from high school, compared with only 55 percent of blacks and Hispanics.  …

If we could reduce the current number of dropouts by just half, we would yield almost 700,000 new graduates a year, and it would more than pay for itself. Studies show that the typical high school graduate will obtain higher employment and earnings — an astonishing 50 percent to 100 percent increase in lifetime income — and will be less likely to draw on public money for health care and welfare and less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system. Further, because of the increased income, the typical graduate will contribute more in tax revenues over his lifetime than if he’d dropped out. 

When the costs of investment to produce a new graduate are taken into account, there is a return of $1.45 to $3.55 for every dollar of investment, depending upon the educational intervention strategy. Under this estimate, each new graduate confers a net benefit to taxpayers of about $127,000 over the graduate’s lifetime.

As a self-interested professor, I’m all for more public investment in higher education. But the highest social return may well come from much earlier investments. And of course these students are not going to enroll at UO if they don’t graduate from HS. Here’s info on SAIL, a program run by volunteer UO professors, aimed at addressing this issue.

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3 Responses to Meanwhile, outside our ivory tower,

  1. Anonymous says:

    thanks for posting this

  2. Anonymous says:

    The greater point in that article was the fact that school districts are underfunded and recent cuts and closures leave the remaining schools understaffed and underfunded. Students wanting to take AP classes or even classes to have basic credits to enter college is difficult, beyond not providing required classes, they leave students ill prepared for the rigors of college level workloads.
    Not long ago, 4J school district had 2 levels of graduation- a bare minimum, and having enough credits to get into most colleges. I was stunned. Back in the day graduating from H.S. meant having enough credits to go on to college. Now the bar has been lowered to obtain a “good enough” diploma. they also offered classes that don’t qualify towards college admission credits, but don’t list them as such.

  3. running dog says:

    I was truly appalled by this story. It was never clear to me exactly where all the budget cuts were showing up, nor how completely we were failing our students. I also wondered why the high school grads showing up in my classes were increasingly unprepared for university-level work. Now we know. And amazingly, until we got a new superintendent who started asking questions, no one at 4J knew this either. As a citizen I am mortified, and as a parent, I just started to raise the concept of “prep school”.