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Saturday, September 7, 2013

Value of an Education

 On the first day of the school year, we spoke to learners in grades 5-12 about the last day of their Heatly career – graduation. We want every learner to make the choices and the commitment necessary to walk across... the stage and receive a high school diploma.
As parents, we want the best for our children. I’m sure that all of the learners have heard their parents, teachers, and other adults encourage them to acquire an education that at least includes a high school diploma. However, I’m not so sure how much of that message they retain weeks and months later. The focus on the day to day activities at times can interfere with the ability of a fifth or sixth grader to project into the future, several years ahead of their current grade. In addition, the more times they hear a phrase the more likely it may suffer from overload and be casually cast aside.

 With that in mind, we wanted to provide a visual cue that might have a lasting impact on our learners as they start the school year. In September of last year Jason Breslow prepared a news article for the Public Broadcasting Service’s Frontline reports entitled, By the Numbers: Dropping Out of High School. The article shared statistics related to some of the challenges faced by those who have dropped out of school. The most notable figure for me was the difference in the average annual incomes of people with a high school diploma and people who dropped out of school. According to the data, those without a high school diploma generally earn, on the average, $10,386 less each year than someone who received their high school diploma.

Now, assuming that two people, one with a high school diploma and one without a high school diploma, entered the workforce at age eighteen and worked until they retired at age fifty-five, that yearly gap of $10,386 multiplied by thirty-seven years now becomes a difference of $384,282. Wow!!

So, after discussing a bit of reality by way of the classified section of the newspaper - few jobs available at a time of economic decline, the cost of apartments, transportation, food…, - and reminding them that reality is not an app on their cell phones, a cart was wheeled into the gymnasium loaded with $384,282 neatly wrapped in transparent plastic bags. That money represents what they may potentially be losing during the course of their working career if they do not earn their high school diploma.

 One drop-out is too much. We are committed to supporting all learners in their quest to successfully complete high school.

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