What Is Life Like For The 20 Percent Of High School Dropouts?

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May, 23, 2014: Life is hard for the 20 percent of American students who do not graduate high school.

The US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently boasted of a highly impressive statistic. American high schools now have an 80 percent graduation rate. This is certainly a milestone in the field of education and is indicative of the fact that things are going in the right direction.

However, he was also mindful of the remaining 20 percent. He wrote in his article, “I see 80 percent as a starting point. We have so much further to go -- for the one in five students who don't graduate; for the many who graduate less than fully prepared for college; and for the groups of students that, despite recent progress, are achieving and graduating at lower rates. The potential of American students is limitless -- it's on our schools, families and communities to help them achieve at higher levels.

The secretary’s statement is commendable. It shows that the education department is, in fact, taking substantial steps in ensuring education for all.

The concerns of the remaining 20 percent were raised in a recent report by America's Promise Alliance, a nonprofit organization founded by former Secretary of State Colin Powell. The report entitled ‘Don't Call Them Dropouts’, based on interviews of more than 200 Americans who left high school, highlighted the challenges faced by students who failed to graduate.

The report revealed some astonishing figures. Almost 30 percent of respondents reported of being abused, 22 percent being homeless, and around 18 percent spending time in juvenile detention. On the upside, most of them had somehow returned to school or re-engagement programs to complete their education.

 It is about time that the phenomenal progress on high-school graduation be taken a step further towards the universal goal of a 100 percent.

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