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It has become a truism that there is a close connection between school failure and juvenile crime, as demonstrated by literally hundreds of studies over the past 100 years. As if to remind us once again, here comes yet another study, this one by the California Dropout Research Project at UC Santa Barbara. As reported in today’s Los Angeles Times, dropping out of school costs the state $1.1 billion each year and if we decreased the number of dropouts by half it would save $550 million per year. This study also found that for each group of 20-year-olds (about 120,000 per year) the total economic loss is about $46.4 billion.

Looking more carefully at the actual report reveals that compared to high school graduates dropouts earn lower wages, pay fewer taxes, are more likely to commit crimes, are less likely to be employed, are more likely to be on welfare, and are less healthy.” Not surprisingly, race enters the picture in a predictable way. For example, black male dropouts have a 60% change of being incarcerated (the report did not show the incarceration rate for other races). Another report called Ethnic and Gender Differences in California High School Graduation Rates” shows that black youths have the lowest graduation rates (59%) with Hispanics only slightly better (60%), and females of all races the most likely to graduate. Related reports show that graduation rates in this state have declined since the required testing took effect during the 2005 – 2006 school year.

One has to wonder if anyone in state government will take a close look and start to re-examine the massive cutbacks in education that are underway in California, which will no doubt make matters worse. Ironically, cutbacks within the university system may result in the loss of funding for the California Dropout Research Project at UC Santa Barbara, the group that has been doing these reports!