Drop out, go to prison

Ten percent of young male high school dropouts are in prison compared to three percent of high school graduates, estimates a Northeastern University study. reported in the New York Times.

The picture is even bleaker for African-Americans, with nearly one in four young black male dropouts incarcerated or otherwise institutionalized on an average day, the study said. That compares with about one in 14 young, male, white, Asian or Hispanic dropouts.

Each high school dropout costs about $292,000, the report estimated, including “lost tax revenues, since dropouts earn less and therefore pay less in taxes than high school graduates. It also includes the costs of providing food stamps and other aid to dropouts and of incarcerating those who turn to crime.”

Supporters want more money for dropout recovery programs offering GED and job training.

Here’s the problem: Dropping out by itself doesn’t trigger unemployment or criminal behavior. It’s the result of years of failure. Most dropouts haven’t developed the work habits and behaviors required by the working world; they’ve also failed to acquire minimal reading, writing and math skills. Some grow up and wise up when they see they’re unprepared for adult life, but most need a lot more than GED and job classes.

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  1. Richard Aubrey says:

    Those who want more funding for useless “programs” insist that dropping out is the triggering event. Up ’til then, they imply, everything’s been going swimmingly. If we could only keep these guys in school….
    Problem is, anybody whose IQ exceeds that of slime mold knows that the dropout isn’t even the culmination of a series of screwups. It’s just a stop along the way.
    While keeping these clowns in jail costs a bit, keeping them away from the rest of us saves a buck or two, as well.

  2. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Why bother keeping them in school?

    Why not just give out free high school diplomas? We can even include a little gold-colored frame!

    That should instantly cut the incarceration rate across the country.

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    The right question is why were these kids not helped in kindergarten or first grade or as soon as it was evident they needed additional help and more time on task? Or why were they sent to MIP-conduct and ignored all the way through school and made to feel worthless…need I go on…

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    You’re presuming the problem is their poor experience in education. Another ten minutes a day in reading and all would be well.
    I don’t think so.

  5. No Tim, the right question is “why, if the per student funding level nationally is now at +$10,000 is there not enough money for just about anything anyone could imagine?”

  6. Devilbunny says:

    How about “including the amount of taxes they didn’t pay in their costs to society is an insane presupposition that you and your labor belong to the state”?

  7. I agree that the problem isn’t the dropping out, it’s the life choices that eventually lead to dropping out – using drugs/alcohol instead of going to class or doing homework, hanging out with thug friends instead of staying home and learning something useful, cheating in class through money, pressure, or threats, instead of staying after school to attend tutoring.

    I see a lot of these kids; their failures start with being totally unprepared for high school levels of achievement. Typically, their Math and English skills are, at best, elementary. Yet, because of their age (and, sometimes, the fact that they are discipline problems), they are shoved out of K-8 and middle schools, to sink or swim.

    Need I point out that almost all of them sink?

    No kid should be in a regular high school without the skills to succeed. If they lack ability to read, write, and do math, well, teach them.

    If necessary, add Saturday school – real school, intensive Language Arts & Math – but not those watered-down versions that haven’t worked with the kid already. Phonics, baby. And step-by-step math instruction (Saxon comes to mind), together with the manipulatives.

  8. Richard Aubrey says:

    Linda F.
    You presume the kids will be interested.

    Our high school used to be in an athletic conference which included an inner-city high school.
    As my son played ball in various grades, we attended three parents’ nights at that school. Luck of the draw, I guess. It was pathetic. The visitors–our side–were audibly (and I am not being figurative) groaning at the football parents’ night. One after another after another…had only one, if that, parent to stand with him. The basketball team, with only twelve kids, had…none. Not one. Zero. Maybe an aunt and a friend on leave from Ft. Bragg.
    Saxon isn’t going to make up for a crazy, unpredictable home life, if it can be called that.

  9. yUNg FAtt says:

    How about we stop funding so much money to build prisons and give our youth all this money we’re wasting. If more of them had a plan and knew that they had a definite way through college, more of them will graduate!!!!


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