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Quantifying the cost of education shortfalls November 29, 2006

Posted by Tom in Community, Economic Development, Education, Workforce.

If you’ve never looked, Jack Schultz’s Boomtown USA blog is a gem.  As he travels the “agurbs” of the country to illustrate how the smallest of small towns and the most rural of rural towns have overcome self-imposed obstacles to develop their communities for both today and tomorrow, he posts his observations from the road on his blog.  Sometimes photos, sometimes first-person journal entries and sometimes bigger picture analysis extrapolating on conversations he’s had.

This entry is one of the latter – Schultz’s visit to Ponca City, Oklahoma uncovered some new data on workforce development…which dovetailed nicely with a talk that Cleveland’s Ed Morrison (workforce-ED expert and an occasional contributor to the always-interesting Brewed Fresh Daily blog) was giving.   An excerpt of Morrison’s comments (and Schultz’s commentary) follows:

“Each year over one third of our population is sent to economic poverty [by their dropping out of high school], which effectively permanently disables them for their entire lives. Yet we do little about it. We simply shrug our shoulders and say we ought to fix the system. That begs the question of, “Who makes up the WE in our society and why aren’t we freaking out over it?”

Morrison raised some interesting and alarming facts in his talk at the conference, “Dropping out of high school is a $300,000 loss in lifetime earnings and high school is no longer a ticket to a middle class lifestyle. Kids who can’t read by the third grade will probably drop out of school by the 12th. The high school graduation rate is the most important statistic for local economic development and rural areas are figuring this out much quicker than our cities.”

[Tim] Burg [of the Ponca City Development Authority] raises an important issue that is going to be of increasing concern in most communities. While I don’t agree that public education is a life sentence to degradation and poverty, I do believe that lack of education can put us as a nation at a disadvantage. Without education we are disabled, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. What are you doing in your community to ensure that education is being provided in its greatest capacity? Reform doesn’t happen from the top down, it starts at the individual.

Great points.  To illustrate them further, take a look at these graphs that Schultz posted:

Our national drop-out problem grows….

…which clearly has an impact on a student’s lifelong learning potential.



1. datruss - November 30, 2006

We have to make high schools fit the kids instead of kids fit the high schools… or we will be building an ever-larger pool of have-nots in the US as well as here in Canada.


Thanks for the summary,

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