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States Pick-Up on the Economic Benefits of Reducing the Dropout Rate

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June 16, 2010 06:19 pm

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On the heels of the release of the Alliance’s study, several major state newspapers are reporting on the economic benefits that their local metropolitan areas could experience if they were to cut their high school dropout rate in half. In a Salt Lake Tribune story, Pam Perlich, a senior research economist at the University of Utah, responded to the study, saying that the Alliance’s research was in line with other research showing that people with higher levels of educational attainment will have better economic outcomes.

“It’s very settled that people who have higher levels of education are more productive, and that pays off over the course of their entire working lives,” Perlich said. “No matter what the magnitude of the number is they come up with, the general point is a great investment in education by residents of the state will lead to higher levels of economic performance by people in the state.”

StateFarmMediaRecap- States Pick Up on the Economic

And Mark Bouchard, head of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce, Education Task Force and senior managing director of CB Richard Ellis, remarked in an interview with the Deseret News, “Businesses are the greatest consumer of the education system. We’re directly impacted by the quality of the work force.” An editorial in the same newspaper added, “The alliance report is an important reminder that the state’s economy depends upon a strong educational system. The issue is larger than whether the children in one’s own neighborhood graduate from high school. The state’s economic well-being — and personal well-being — hinge on as many students as possible achieving academic success.”

In Louisiana, The Advocate asked State Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek about the issue and he responded that state education officials have held eight “mini summits” around the state to meet with principals, superintendents and others to discuss ways to trim the high school dropout rate. He added that academies that separate ninth-graders from others and allowing students to recover credits through compressed courses are making a difference. The first solution makes sense given that two-thirds of dropouts are lost in the ninth and tenth grades.

The Birmingham News, Alabama’s most widely circulated newspaper, reported on the results in their area and interviewed Joe Morton, Alabama Schools Superintendent, who said, “Every student that drops out of school and does not graduate from high school creates another bump in the road to a strong economy for Alabama.” In a different story, the Birmingham News editorial board commented that, “Dropouts are an anchor weighing heavily on the economy and on governments, and, unfortunately, Alabama has one of the higher dropout rates in the country.”

And finally a story in the Idaho Statesman, generated a flurry of reader comments including, this one from “rlmanwar”, “Better education results in better lives for the educated and for the communities in which they live. By better lives, I mean not only lives with more money but richer lives in terms of what we call “culture.”

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