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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

Topic: dropouts

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January 9, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Question of the Week: Would you hire a high school dropout?

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Illustration by Paul Tong / Op Art

Last week’s blog post about the societal costs of high school dropouts drew a strong response from readers. According to a 2011 study from Columbia University, the average dropout imposes a lifetime cost of about $235,680 in welfare payments, food stamp, criminal justice and medical care.

With more than 30,000 teens and young adults disconnected from school and lacking diplomas in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties, the economic costs add up fast.

But the passage of ground-breaking legislation in 2010 made connecting dropouts with a diploma or other certification a renewed priority in Washington state. A popular Kent-based high school completion program called iGrad is the subject of Monday’s front-page story.

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Comments | More in Question of the Week, Your voices | Topics: dropouts, igrad, question of the week

January 3, 2014 at 5:00 AM

How much do dropouts cost us? The real numbers behind ‘pay now or pay later’

Plenty of educators opine vaguely about the costs to society when a student drops out of school. But in 2011, an economist and professor of public policy at Columbia University dug into the numbers to tally the actual dollar figures, and they are stunning.

Of 40 million Americans between 16 and 24, about 6.7 million are neither in school nor employed. About half are high school droupouts; the others may have a GED. All are underemployed, if they work at all.

To taxpayers, each of these so-called “opportunity youths” imposes a lifetime cost of about $235,680 in welfare payments, food stamp, criminal justice and medical care. Multiply that across the full 6.7 million cohort and the hit is nearly incomprehensible: $1.6 trillion.

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Comments | More in News | Topics: dropouts, graduation rates

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