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Our Education System’s Costly Failures
by Christina Martin
A recent study by the Foundation for Educational Choice determined that Oregon’s high school dropouts cost the state more than $400 million each year. Dropouts are more likely to be incarcerated or to use Medicaid, and they contribute less in taxes since they earn less on average and are more likely to be unemployed or out of the workforce.
Oregon’s graduation rate varies, depending on how you measure it. According to the Oregon Department of Education’s new measurement standards, only 68% of students graduated with a regular diploma in the 2007-08 school year.
Our many past increases in school funding have not helped graduation rates. However, school choice programs, which empower parents to choose the best fit for their children, have had more success. For example, studies of Milwaukie’s voucher program, and studies of the extensive charter school programs in places like Chicago have shown that these school choice programs substantially increased graduation rates, as these programs have taught students a culture of achievement and hard work.
While we already have some charter schools in Oregon, they haven’t exactly been embraced by most school districts. And successful programs, like Oregon’s online charter schools, have been treated with suspicion and met with enrollment caps. $400 million lost because of Oregon’s dropouts is just a small part of the massive cost of the failures of our educational system. When will we try something better?