Arizona dropouts equal $7.6B loss of economic activity

According to a new report by the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable, the more than 18,000 Arizona students who dropped out of high school this year will produce $7.6 billion less economic activity over their lifetimes than if those same students had graduated.

The report finds that cutting the dropout rate in half would generate $3.8 billion more in economic benefits to the state for each graduating class.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and several Valley mayors released the research report on Wednesday.

They are using the results to promote “reforms” such Common Core, which has virtually nothing to do with the reason kids drop out of Arizona schools. Paul J. Luna, president and CEO of Helios Education Foundation said, “Having the Mayors hold these statewide discussions will help enable our communities to identify and respond to the contributing factors and set goals that will re-engage students and put them back on the path toward college and career readiness.”

Findings include:

◾Each Arizona high school dropout results in a $421,280 loss in economic activity over his or her lifetime. This figure includes lost earnings, increased health care and crime-related costs, lost economic productivity and lost tax revenue.

◾In the City of Phoenix, the number is higher: each dropout results in a $463,500 economic loss – creating a $1.42 billion economic loss per graduating class.

◾In Arizona, each dropout will earn $271,040 less over the course of their lifetime than counterparts who graduate. Dropouts face higher risks of unemployment and economic insecurity.
◾Each dropout will cost taxpayers an additional $98,520 more in crime-related expenses over the course of their lifetime.

◾Of the $7.6 billion in Arizona economic loss, $1.5 billion represents lost revenue and increased expenses for state and local governments.

◾In 2012, Arizona’s disconnected youth population – that is, young people who are neither in school nor working – was 183,200, or 22 percent of population aged 16 to 24. This disconnected population results in an aggregate economic loss of more than $127 billion.

“Beyond the profound consequences to individuals and their families, we are now able to quantify the impact of school dropouts on Arizona’s economy,” said Paul H. Koehler, director of WestEd’s Policy Center and coordinator of the Mayors Roundtable. “This report should serve as a clarion call to action for state educators, policy makers, and all Arizonans.” WestEd is part of the educational industrialized complex and offers educators, “consulting & technical assistance, evaluation, policy analysis, professional development, and research,” according to their website.

Russell W. Rumberger, a professor of education at the University of California, Santa Barbara and director of the California Dropout Research Project served as lead author of the report. Data was compiled from the Arizona Department of Education, U.S. Census American Community Survey and the 2014 study, “The Economic Losses from High School Dropouts and Disconnected Youth: Evidence from Across Arizona,” written by Clive R. Belfield, a professor at Queens College, City University of New York. Belfield also authored The Price We Pay: The Cost to the Nation of Inadequate Education (edited, with Henry Levin), Brookings Institution Press, Washington, DC (2007).

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