High school dropouts are significantly less likely than better-educated Americans to vote, trust government, do volunteer work, or go to church, according to a new report that reveals a widening gap in “civic health” between the nation’s upper and lower classes.
The report, a portrait of civic life in the United States, finds that Americans’ disengagement from their communities during the past few decades has been particularly dramatic among adults who have the least education. Among people who lack a high school diploma, the percentage who have voted plummeted from 1976 to 2004 to 31 percent — half the 62 percent of college graduates who voted in 2004.
The class divide is the most striking finding of the report, prepared by leading social scientists and released yesterday by the National Conference on Citizenship, a nonprofit organization created by Congress. “High school dropouts are . . . nearly voiceless in a system that fails them,” said John Bridgeland, a former domestic policy adviser to President Bush who is chief executive officer of Civic Enterprises and leads the conference’s advisory board.
Full Report: [630K PDF]