The Education Meltdown

A great deal of media attention and financial resources have been dedicated to the financial meltdown, generated by the mortgage lending scheme. Yet, there is another meltdown which is deserving of the same attention and resources.  High school drop out issue is at crisis point and in some cities and some communities at a tipping point. The latest data shows nationwide, nearly one in three U.S. high school students fails to graduate with a diploma. In total, approximately 1.2 million students drop out each year – averaging 7,000 every school day or one every 26 seconds. Among minority students, the problem is even more severe with nearly 50 percent of African American and Hispanic students not completing high school on time. Further, according to one study, only half of the high school students in the nation’s 50 largest cities are graduating in four years, with a figure as low as 25% in Detroit. And while concern over dropouts isn’t new, the problem now has officials outside of public education worried enough to get directly involved.
Given the persistence of high truancy and drop out rates in urban schools, this matter is made even more detrimental when we consider the current state of the economy and shift in the economy to a computer/ technological-based model, high paying jobs at this end of the spectrum and services-based, low-paying employment at the other end. Consider too, the crime-based economy- drug trafficking, prostitution, human smuggling- which have now become a permanent feature of black and brown neighborhoods, and you now have a permanent class of citizens who will be relegated to margins of American life, headed most likely to the prison, mental health, substance abuse, or unemployment systems.

The lethal combination of school drop out and the enticement of the crime-based economy will serve to reduce the quality of life in urban cities and ensure that the epidemic of violence, guns, gangs, and drugs continues with greater force and destruction. The education meltdown will surely divert and drain our finite resources and cement the trajectory of our nation-two societies, separate and unequal.

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