Monday, October 14, 2002

Four Thousand Dropouts in Nebraska?

According to the Lincoln-based child advocacy group, Voices for Children, in 1999 more than 4,000 students dropped out of school and 849 were expelled. Among them was a disproportionate number of black and Hispanic youth.

Read it and weep on http://www.VoicesForChildren.com

I"m having a real problem believing that figure is correct. The same group reported that 22,635 diplomas were granted in Nebraska and another 2,406 General Equivalency Diplomas or other high-school equivalent degrees were awarded.

So according to the child advocacy group, about 25,000 people finished high school in Nebraska but nearly another 5,000 either dropped out or were kicked out.

What kind of a success rate is that?

We all know what juvenile justice officials say about youth crime: the vast majority of young people who get into serious trouble with the law first get into serious trouble in school. They had learning disabilities that didn't get corrected or adjusted for, they never learned to read, write and figure properly, their grades were horrible, their hopes were dashed, they fell into the wrong crowd and continued on that downward spiral.

Meanwhile, we are spending something like $6,000 per pupil per year in K-12 public education in Nebraska for general-fund operations alone, not counting off-budget costs like major bond issues and so forth.

Five thousand kids leave school at $6,000 apiece. So that's a minimum of $30 million a year in Nebraska tax dollars that's lost as a "bad investment" . . . a "write-off"?

Do we really do that to young people in Nebraska? Really?

If that statistic is correct . . . where is the outrage?

How can voters go to the polls Nov. 5, or any time soon, and give schools MORE money if schools are allowing this to happen to so many young people?

Voters and taxpayers should demand a full accounting on the failures of public schools, including dropout and expulsion information, right along with the happy, peppy positive propaganda that's being slung about to bring more dough into already-bulging school coffers.

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