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IS IGNORANCE BLISS? New Survey Finds a Public Largely Unaware of the High School Dropout Problem and Its Effect on the Economy

"This is a national crisis," said Daniel J. Cardinali, the national president of CIS

Only one in ten Americans believe the high school dropout problem is a crisis, according to a new survey commissioned by Communities In Schools (CIS) and conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates. The survey, conducted from January 26 through January 31, found that while most respondents associated high school dropouts with economic and social problems, they consistently underestimated the actual number of dropouts, and vastly underestimated the percentage of prison inmates who failed to complete high school.

“This is a national crisis,” said Daniel J. Cardinali, the national president of CIS, a community-based organization that is dedicated to helping kids stay in school and prepare for life. “The time has come to expand the issue of high school dropouts from a concern about helping individual youth to a much broader societal issue. We have to do something to grab people’s attention, because one out of three students in America is dropping out of school. Some people may not be able to see the impact today, but it will be hard to miss in a few years. We are facing a major labor crisis, not to mention a loss in tax revenue-because if we keep on this path, one in five Americans will never enter the labor force.”

When asked what they thought was the solution to the dropout problem, 80 percent of respondents believed increases in government funding and small, alternative schools were necessary. According to the survey, 76 percent of Americans thought a connection existed between dropping out of high school and crime, and 69 percent believed there was a correlation between dropouts and welfare costs. However, only 45 percent of respondents understood that the high number of dropouts will significantly decrease Social Security revenue.

More information on the survey is available at

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