Despite all the efforts of every president from Kennedy to Obama, kids not completing their high school education are a blight on our society. According to DoSomething.org, every year, over 1.2 million students drop out of high school in the United States alone. This comes to 7,000 kids a day dropping out. Twenty five percent of high school freshmen fail to graduate on time. The U.S., which in 1970 had had the world's highest graduation rates of any developed country, now ranks 22 out of 27 countries in the developed world. Two thousand high schools across this country graduate fewer than 60% of their students. In the U.S., high school dropouts commit 75% of our crimes.
The unemployment rate for dropouts is 9.1%, for those with high school diplomas it's 5.8% and with college degrees, 3.3%. The average high school dropout earns $20,240 annually versus $30,600 for a high school graduate. According to The New York Times, if we could reduce the number of dropouts by a little over half, this would yield close to 700,000 new high school graduates each year. These 700,000 new graduates a year would obtain a higher rate of employment and earnings and would be less likely to draw on public money for health care and welfare and less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system. And because of the increase in income, these 700,000 graduates each year would contribute more in tax revenues. Each of these graduates over their lifetime produces a net benefit to taxpayers of $127,000 in government savings. This would benefit the public close to $90 billion each year, which turns into $1 trillion after 11 years. That is serious money and an easy issue that both Democrats and Republicans can rally behind to reduce our deficit while supporting funding for education.