Esther Wojcicki: Thousands of Kids Drop Out of High School Daily – How Are We Going to Solve the Problem?

Esther Wojcicki via a kind reader’s email:

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week, Sesame Workshop with Google and Common Sense Media are sponsoring Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age, a conference of 200 thought leaders who will come together to discuss solutions to the literacy and dropout problems facing the nation. This blog focuses on the dropout crisis; the one yesterday focused on the literacy problems.

The dropout crisis is bigger than you might have guessed. While in some areas it has improved somewhat in the last year, in the country as a whole the problem is growing. Almost fifty percent of students in the fifty largest American cities drop out of high school. In some cities, there is over a seventy percent drop out rate.

A major consequence of the dropout rate is an increase in crime and and the prison rate. We spend more to keep prisoners in jail than we do to educate our students. Typical per-prisoner expenses run from $20,000-$50,000 per year while typical per pupil expenditures run from $7,000 to $20,000, averaging $9,000. This discrepancy needs to be addressed now and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is trying to promote change through incentives in the $100 billion education stimulus package.