In yesterday’s Panopticonic article — Romney Wants Fewer Teachers, Cops and Firefighters — I argued fewer teachers would lead to more crime. Some readers commented in email there was no proof of that common sense notion, so today, I provide some hard and unavoidable facts here in Carceral Nation confirming fewer teachers create larger class sizes and larger class sizes create higher dropout rates:
Oregon’s annual dropout rate over the last decade has dipped and climbed with the number of teachers. When the number of teachers dropped to nearly 27,000 in 1998, the dropout rate hit 6.9 percent. When teacher ranks climbed to 31,000 in 2007, the dropout rate had fallen to 3.2 percent.
High school dropout rates also soar in unappealing incarceration percentages divided by Racial lines:
On any given day, about one in every 10 young male high school dropouts is in jail or juvenile detention, compared with one in 35 young male high school graduates, according to a new study of the effects of dropping out of school in an America where demand for low-skill workers is plunging. …
The report puts the collective cost to the nation over the working life of each high school dropout at $292,000. Mr. Sum said that figure took into account lost tax revenues, since dropouts earn less and therefore pay less in taxes than high school graduates. It also includes the costs of providing food stamps and other aid to dropouts and of incarcerating those who turn to crime.
Not only are high school dropouts bad for public safety, dropouts are also a drain on state coffers:
Dropouts drive up the state’s incarceration costs. Over a lifetime, a dropout costs the state $8,484 because of higher incarceration rates than higher-educated peers. We estimate the average annual incarceration costs of California’s 3.8 million dropouts would decline by $374 per person had those dropouts graduated from high school, representing potential cost savings of more than $1.4 billion.
California’s economy will benefit tremendously by reducing dropouts. We estimate that each prevented dropout will result in a present value lifetime benefit of $28,227.1 By permanently cutting the dropout rate in half, each new graduating class of high school students would yield more than $1.4 billion in direct gross economic benefits to the state. Completely eliminating the dropout problem would save the state $2.8 billion annually, or approximately 14 percent of its present budget deficit.
We need a return to valuing education as a society and keeping kids in the classroom at all and any costs. America became great because of our thinking and ingenuity. Now we are failing as a country because we choose to actively punish those who wish to better their minds beyond state mandated minimums.