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Diversity Latino student dropout rates a cause for alarm

In perhaps what has been the most comprehensive studies conducted on school dropouts in the nation, the Center for Labor Markets Studies (CLMS) has published a report featuring demographic data from the 12 most populous states. These states, California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia also have very large Latino populations. The report shows that in 2005 there were an estimated 6.1 million school dropouts between the ages of 16 - 24. Latinos comprised 30 percent (1,887,500) of all the school dropouts. With an estimated total population of 6,287,323 in 2005, this means that almost 1 out of every 3 Latino students will drop out of school by age 24.

The following is the dropout rate for each of the 12 states:

* State Total Dropout Total Latino Dropout Percent
* California 695,023 486,590 70.1
* Texas 622,692 376,464 60.5
* Florida 428,440 117,061 27.3
* New York 375,980 95,266 25.3
* Georgia 267,253 47,503 17.8
* Illinois 226,896 70,932 31.3
* Pennsylvania 212,744 27,877 13.2
* North Carolina 209,007 39,845 19.1
* Ohio 207,860 8,551 4.1
* Michigan 182,056 16,436 9.1
* Virginia 135,395 20,704 15.3
* New Jersey 113,827 47,185 41.5

The consequences of not obtaining a high school diploma are significant in that dropouts are estimated to earn $375,000 less than those who graduate, over their lifetime. On the average, workers without a high school diploma earn less than $19,000 per year, or one-third of those workers who have a college diploma. The lower the income, the more likely the person becomes dependent on government services.

In addition, there is a negative contribution in taxes, which affect government services. It is estimated that over their lifetime, a person with a college degree contributes more than $250,000 in payroll, federal and state income taxes.

The report recommends the continued use of programs found to be able to reach these young people since many are not dead-end dropouts, but if given the opportunity would reenroll and finish high school. Some of these successful programs include:

* The Los Angeles Conservation Corps that combines charter school programming and work;
* Soledad Enrichment Action (SEA) in Los Angeles that operates many programs including an 18 campus charter school to re-enroll dropouts;
* The Chicago Alternative Schools Network, which has demonstrated for over 30 years successful programs re-enrolling students who have dropped out of school through 23 community-based schools;
* The Chicago Public School District has initiated a wide range of creative programs to re-enroll students who have dropped out;
* The Milwaukee Partnership Program has administered for over 22 years successful programs re-enrolling students who have dropped out of school through 15 community-based schools; Portland, Oregon has demonstrated effective programs in re-enrolling students who have dropped out of school;
* The Job Corps, an education and vocational training program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor that helps young people ages 16 through 24 improve their schooling, obtain vocational training, and take control of their lives;
* YouthBuild USA, a HUD-funded program which provides education and training in the context of building affordable housing and has trained more than 40,000 youth;
* The Center for Employment and Training (CET), which provides job training and education, and has 33 centers in 12 states, including Illinois, Texas and California; and,
* Youth Corps (Service and Conservation Corps), an education and training program that enrolls over 23,000 youth annually (The program is a direct descendant of the Civilian Conservation Corps, which was created during the Depression and employed three million people in the 1930s and early 1940s.)

The report goes on tot state that "the cost of these programs is small compared to the cost of doing nothing in terms of future health problems, lost tax revenues due to low earnings, and higher costs of imprisonment, welfare, and other transfer costs that amount to over $250,000 per youth who remains on the street and does not earn a high school diploma. If only half of the re-enrolled students each year earn a high school diploma, taxpayers will be saved over $640 billion over the life of these re-enrolled students from the combined increase of earnings and taxes paid and reduced levels of cash and in-kind government transfers.

For more information about this report, visit the Center for Labor Market Studies website.

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