Earlier this month America's Promise Alliance, a partnership of charitable foundations, businesses, nonprofits, and other education advocates, launched a national campaign to reduce high school dropout rates and prepare children for college, careers and life. The campaign includes a series of ground-breaking, high-level dropout prevention summits to be held in every state and 50 communities over the next two years. General Colin Powell, founding chair of the Alliance, joined his wife Alma in making the announcement - citing the dropout crisis as a serious threat to our economy and national security. Achieve is proud to be a partner in this effort.
This campaign comes on the heels of a new report that finds that America's largest cities are struggling to keep a majority of students in school. Cities in Crisis: A Special Analytic Report on High School Graduation, released by the America's Promise Alliance and prepared by Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, finds that only half of all students served by the main school systems in the nation's 50 largest cities graduate from high school. In 35 of these cities' greater metropolitan areas, the graduation rates in urban schools were lower than those in nearby suburban communities, in some cases by as much as 35 percentage points. Nationwide, nearly one in three U.S. high school students drops out before graduating. In total, approximately 1.2 million students drop out each year - about 7,000 every school day, or one every 26 seconds.
In response to these alarming statistics, the dropout prevention summits aim to increase public awareness of the dropout crisis by bringing mayors and governors, business owners, child advocates, school administrators, students and parents together to develop workable solutions. The summits are designed both to raise awareness and develop actionable plans that will help put local high schools on the road to improve graduation rates. Importantly, the aim of the summits is to not just increase graduation rates, but to ensure that all students graduate with a diploma that counts. To that end, America's Promise Alliance is requiring that the outcomes of all of the summits include incorporating the Achieve American Diploma Project dual agenda goals of raising graduation rates AND rigor so that all students graduate ready for success.
Dropping out of high school negatively affects not just students and their families, but the nation's businesses, government and communities. The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates that high school dropouts from the class of 2006-07 will cost the U.S. more than $329 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes. "Economic success is dependent upon educational opportunities. If we are to compete, it is essential that we address America's growing dropout crisis," said Edward B. Rust, Jr., chairman and CEO of State Farm Insurance Company (and an Achieve, Inc. board member).
For more on the campaign, go here.