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Group: Dropouts Take Toll on N.C. Economy

Posted October 24, 2007

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— A recent study suggests dropouts cost North Carolina millions of dollars each year.

The study, conducted by Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina in conjunction with Milton and Rose D. Friedman Foundation, documented the public costs of the state's high school dropouts.

According to the study, nearly one-third of students entering public school in North Carolina do not graduate, costing the state $169 million per year. The costs involve lost income tax revenue, extra Medicaid spending and housing for prisoners who didn't get their diplomas.

The report suggests a slight increase in private school enrollment would save up to $24 million annually. Not everyone is sold on that idea.

The groups said one way to reduce the number of high school dropouts is to find a way to make more private schools available to parents. According to the Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina, nationwide research has shown that school districts with more students in private schools have higher public school graduation rates.

Many of the high school freshmen who walk the halls of Johnston County schools won't be there by their senior year. Johnston County has a 75 percent graduation rate. About 400 students drop out per year.

“I think it's a big concern for all of us. If we have one high school student who drops out it's a major concern,” said Johnston County Schools Superintendent Anthony Parker.

It is a much bigger problem on a statewide level.

“North Carolina will continue to pay a dear price well into the future for failing to solve this problem,” said Robert Enlow with the Friedman Foundation.

Advocates of the study want to make private and alternative schools available to more parents. They say a slight increase in private enrollment could make a big difference.

Rep. Earline Parmon, (D) Forsyth County, said she is more open to hearing about other options in terms of educating students.

Parker said he believes Johnston County Schools can provide the type of education that will keep students in school. The school system already has at-risk counselors in every high school to help address the issue, he said.

Educators say one problem with drop out numbers is that it can be difficult to track students who leave the system or enroll in GED programs.

108 Comments

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  • ohmygosh Oct 26, 2007

    All the government is concerned about is the taxes they don't get. Any sin is OK as long as the gov't gets their cut. The real costs include lots more.

    Why stay in school when you can pi*p, prostitute yourself, sell drugs, aspire to be a sports figure or rapper?

    Instant success. Big car, lots of gold jewlery.
    Compare that to working all your life just to possibly scrimp by.

    One must add the costs of the crime associated with not getting through school and getting a job. I don't see how the number in this article is high enough.

  • nofear Oct 25, 2007

    If you are going to keep religion out of school because of to many people with different backgrounds. But the same parents will accept a Christmas bonus at work. I guess that is changing to end of the year bonus now.

  • rainbowbutterflies2006 Oct 25, 2007

    "Elcid-And so they are entitled to, but I'd offer a suggestion to you that I suspect that many parents supporting proposals like this do so in the errant belief that it will enable them to send their kids to top rate private schools,"

    I can tell you one parent "supporting proposals like this..." are doing so because she is convinced she still lives in a democracy not a communist run country.

    Communism denies it's citizens choices, democracy guarantees them. So why is the choice of the proper education for one child verses another a choice only the government can make?

    The funding for every North Carolinian child is apportioned in the state budget and all we are asking is for that stipend to be apportioned to the school of the child's choice, not dictated by the government. Do you know what kind of far advanced education I could buy with the apportioned amount the government is now handing over to the government run schools?

  • Phlootang Oct 24, 2007

    Jimmylinn,
    I apologize. Your words and some reflection allowed me to realize that my generalizations should not have extended to your situation. I don't agree that over-disciplining is significantly contributing to school drop outs, but it does not justify dismissing your concerns. I will agree that some schools do target children for suspension. I don't believe that the children are entirely innocent; but no child deserves to be targeted by adults before the adults do all that they can do to reach out to the parents and to help the children. I wish you and your grandchildren happiness and success in the future.

  • jimmylinn Oct 24, 2007

    I am glad you know all about the situation. We are talking about why the drop out rate is so high. This is one of the reasons.
    Justified or not this is one of the reasons.

  • Phlootang Oct 24, 2007

    Suspended for talking? for wearing a shirt with the school colors? After you stopped laughing from listening to their version, did you ask the school why they were suspended?

    And how did your grandchildren's mother and father react? Where they aware of any patterns of behaviors? Were they ever offered an opportunity to respond? Did they appeal the school decision to the Hearing Officer?

    I am sure that schools are just falling over themselves to suspend pure, innocent little angels. I regret that your grandchildren somehow fell victim to the vast left-? right-? central-wing conspiracy.

    Something stinks, me thinks.

  • oldrebel Oct 24, 2007

    Show students the vast difference between the earning power over dropouts and graduates over their lifetimes. It may or may not make a difference to most, but some will see the "toys" they want, will cost more than they'll ever make at drop out wages.

  • jimmylinn Oct 24, 2007

    I said "every little infraction" such as talking etc. I didnot say a thing about criminal or major issues. Yes I have 2 grandson's that have been suspended for little infraction so much that they don't to even go to school anymore because they are suspended for talking or wearing a red shirt even though the school colors are red. I know there are kids that don't need to be in school but there are also kids that are labeled and are sent home to get them out of school so they will drop out. And once again I am not talking about major or criminal issues.

  • Nancy Oct 24, 2007

    "School systems often have alternative schools for misbehaving students; would it not be nice to see a school for children who genuinely want to learn? I’d imagine that school would be filled quickly!"

    And therein lies the "vision" of public schools - mediocrity is acceptable but my oh my, we have to find a solution for the troublemakers, not the students who wish to excel.

    It's upside down indeed! Good point you make.

  • Phlootang Oct 24, 2007

    Tibby, I agree that bullying is a real problem. While suspending children may not have lasting consequences on the violator, I feel that the innocent victims have some benefit. Many teachers agree that the classroom atmosphere drastically changes with the removal of just one bad seed. The students adopt a learned helplessness when they see ‘untouchable’ students get away with bullying and other misbehavior. Often, students will readily admit that going to a school administrator will have much more undesirable consequences than benefits.

    School systems often have alternative schools for misbehaving students; would it not be nice to see a school for children who genuinely want to learn? I’d imagine that school would be filled quickly!

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