New Report Underscores Education Reform Needs
Senator Gloria Romero
Current High-School Dropout Rate Means 1 in 3 Students Will Fail
Today we again highlight the need for reform in California’s education system based on a report released yesterday by the California Dropout Research Project stating one in three high-school students will drop out of school before graduating.
It is simply unconscionable that we can project a failure rate in educating future generations. I’m not willing to wait one more year—and loose another 140,000 students—to enact serious reforms. We must make changes now that will enable kids to succeed in school and put California back on a path to real and long-term economic recovery.
According to the report in California, students abandon middle and high schools at the rate of 140,000 per year—equlivant to the populations of Pasadena, Elk Grove or the entire County of Napa—and cost taxpayers $46 billion annually in crime, social welfare, health, public assistance and other taxpayer costs. Even in the best of times, the high costs of dropouts to the state are a drain but, today starting new engines of economic growth are the rallying cry of all state and national governments eying recovery.
California’s needs an education system that produces more skilled high-school graduates today more than at any other time in our past.
In fact, for every $500 of wealth that households headed by a high-school dropout accumulate, households headed by high-school graduates possess approximately $5,000. This means that there would be an additional $74 billion in collective wealth in the United States if every household were headed by an individual with at least a high-school diploma, according to a 2008 report by the Alliance for Excellent Education.
The Public Policy Institute of California predicts there will be twice as many high-school dropouts in California in 2025 as there will be jobs to support them. Meaning twice as many high-school dropouts will have no hope for employment. This evidence underscores the importance of early intervention and prevention.
In March the Senate Committee on Education held an informational hearing with the objective of viewing education initiatives through the lens of economic recovery. The hearing and outlined the steps needed to ensure that a skilled workforce, representative of the state’s diversity, industry and need, will be ready to fuel the next stage of economic growth in the state. Further, this year I along with Senator Steinberg have also co-authored SB 651 that would use data to assist educators in developing better public accountability and a stronger focus on dropout prevention.
California’s economic development strategy must focus on growing human capital, and human capital starts with education. Education is the single most important factor in ensuring a capable and competent society in which every member has the opportunity to succeed.
A recent report by UCLA’s Institute for Democracy and the California Educational Opportunity Report, Education and Access (IDEA) and All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (ACCORD), found widespread correlation to renewed attention of the relationship between educational investment and the state’s economic health. The “achievement gap” represents the difference between what California public school students achieve today versus what they will require to gain work in a global economy.
To that end, Senate Democratic members have introduced a package of legislation “Jobs of Tomorrow” which asserts the real link between education and the economy. These bills seek to enhance California’s education system through:
• SB 675 (Steinberg) – Clean Technology and Renewable Energy Job Training, Career Technical Education, and Dropout Prevention Act of 2010
• SB 471 (Romero and Steinberg) – Education: stem cell research
• SB 515 (Hancock) – Career technical education
• SB 43 (Alquist) – Health professions
• SB 725 (Hancock) – Regional occupational centers or programs: California Apprenticeship Preparation Program
• SB 651 (Romero and Steinberg) – Drop out tracking
• SB 747 (Romero) – Career technical education- aerospace
Posted on April 14, 2009