Last week, I read an interesting report released by the Alliance for Excellent Education (The Alliance) that showed the Cleveland economy would grow significantly if the number of high school dropouts was cut in half. More than 8,000 students dropped out of the high school class of 2008 in Cleveland and the surrounding areas, according to the report.
The Alliance’s research shows that if just half of those students had graduated, on average, they would earn more than $52 million in additional income every year of their lives. In addition, in these areas, state and local tax revenues in an average year would jump by more than $8 million, according to the report. While Cleveland was the only city in Ohio the report included, it shows clearly the importance of graduating from high school or obtaining a GED.
The Alliance’s study also found that 61 percent of the additional high school graduates would continue their education with many earning a Ph.D. or other professional degree. From a national perspective, almost 600,000 students dropped out of the high school class of 2008 in the nation’s 50 largest cities and the surrounding areas. The Alliance’s research shows that if just half of those students had graduated, on average, they would have earned more than $4.1 billion in additional income every year. In addition, state and local tax revenues in an average year would jump by nearly $536 million.
I wonder how much impact a lower dropout rate in Summit County would affect the local economy? The 4,900 high schools located within the 50 cities that were included in the report have an average graduation rate of 69.8 percent, according to the report. Over 900 of these are considered “dropout factories,” that is, schools where fewer than 60 percent of freshman progress to their senior year on time.
For more information and specific numbers for each of the cities listed in the report, click here. In January, the Alliance will release additional economic and financial benefits of reducing dropout rates in these 50 cities, including additional spending and investment, job and economic growth, and home and auto sales.
The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington, D.C.-based policy, research and advocacy organization that works to make every child a high school graduate who is prepared for postsecondary education and success in life, according to the Alliance.