I guess we’re supposed to be excited. High school graduation rates are the highest they’ve been in over 40 years. It’s an achievement, to be sure, and I’m sure it comes from hard work and dedication by educators and administrators. Still, I’m have a really difficult time jumping up and down because our high school graduation rate reached 78.2%. That means that we still have over 20% of high school students who aren’t graduating on time, or aren’t graduating at all.
20%. One in five students isn’t graduating high school. In today’s economy, graduating college is seen as a necessity for anyone who wants to live a reasonably comfortable life. Not graduating high school doesn’t even feel like an option for the majority of Americans.
Yet, these students are out there. These kids whose futures rest on receiving an education and training so that they can perform some sort of skill for the rest of their lives, we’re letting them down. We’re letting them quit.
When broken down along racial lines, these numbers just get even more depressing. As reported by Reuters:
Across the United States, four-year graduation rates were highest for students of Asian and Pacific-Islander heritage at 93.5 percent, followed by white students at 83 percent, and Hispanic students at 71.4 percent, according to the study.
American Indian and Alaskan Native students graduated at a rate of 69.1 percent, followed by black students at 66.1 percent
That means more than one-third of African-American students aren’t graduating high school. More than one in four Hispanic students are high school dropouts.
What kind of life do these kids have to look forward to? What are the options for people who haven’t completely high school? Our current job market has almost nothing to offer these people, certainly nothing that provides a living wage.
When these students leave high school, they’re still kids. They are not capable of understanding what a detrimental choice this is. It should never be acceptable that a student leaves high school without a diploma.
High school graduation rates are the highest they’ve been in 40 years, but they are no where near being high enough.