Dropping out is not just a personal tragedy. It leads to greater social, economic, and health concerns. By far, the greatest cost to our community is the untapped human potential.
The Dropout Crisis
- In the United States, more than one million students drop out of high school every year
- Out-of-school youth face a higher rate of unemployment, greater likelihood of poverty, increased probability of drug use, and trouble with the law as they become adults
- The dropout crisis had led to greater community-wide social, economic and health concerns, and a huge incurred cost of untapped human potential
- Male students are more likely to drop out than females
- More than 50% of Native American youth will not graduate
- Among other groups, Latino teens are the most likely to drop out, followed by African American teens
What’s happening in Chicago?
- Chicago Public Schools reported a graduation rate of 65.4% for the 2013-2014 school year, a 4% increase from the previous year
- One out of every four students in Chicago still may not earn a high school diploma
- In the Chicago area alone, there are almost 42,000 young people without a regular high school diploma
Why are students dropping out?
- Living close to or below the poverty level, especially in large cities
- Chronic absences
- Lack of a solid adult support system including help with homework
- Lack of opportunities to participate in sports or extracurricular activities
- Less qualified and low-paid teachers
- The need to assist their family financially or burdened with domestic responsibilities
- Pregnancy and teen parenthood
- Drug use, gangs, and criminal activity
- The feeling that no one cares leads to disengagement and loss of motivation
What does the future look like for a high school dropout?
- Unemployment – 48% of high school dropouts were unemployed in 2010
- Low salary – The average annual salary of a high school dropout is approximately $13,400, less than half the yearly wage of a person with an Associate Degree
- Poverty – 58% of high school dropouts are likely to rely on public assistance and will to be able to afford their own home
- Substance Abuse – dropouts experience increased drug use and alcoholism
- Incarceration – 51% of Illinois prisoners are high school dropouts
- Hunger – 43% of families headed by high school dropouts will experience hunger
How does this affect our community?
- A less productive and competitive workforce
- Greater reliance on public assistance
- Millions of dollars in lost tax revenue for local governments – a dropout will cost a net average of more than $70,000 while a graduate will make a net contribution of approximately $236,000
- Increase in violence and crime and a decline in public safety
- More crime means more incarcerations. The cost of housing an inmate is approximately $22,000 annually.
(Source: Most of this information is based on a study conducted by the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University called High School Dropouts in Chicago and Illinois: The Growing Labor Market, Income, Civic, Social and Fiscal Costs of Dropping Out of High School. (PDF)