Help Stop MN High School Dropout Crisis


Did you know that only 79 percent of Minnesota students complete high school? That’s 14,000 young people in 2009 who didn’t graduate. And students of color are less likely to earn their diplomas than white students.

A 2009 Alliance for Excellent Education study found that while 84 percent of white Minnesotans graduate from high school, only 73 percent of Asian students and 37 percent of Hispanic students graduate. African and African-American graduation rates were not reported (I wonder what that means!?).

As I reported last fall, dropouts earn over $9,000 per year less than students who graduate from high school. A person’s earning potential continues to increase as they get more education.  Even President Obama sees the correlation between education and access to good-paying jobs (see the video).

It’s not just about money.

High school dropouts are more likely to have poorer health and experience more difficulties helping their children succeed. That means the child of a high school dropout is at risk of having their own economic, emotional and physical health problems.

A large dropout rate is not just bad news for those students and their families. Fewer high school graduates in our community affects our whole society.

Dropouts affect everyone when they are able to pay fewer taxes but consume more public assistance. Reducing dropout rates could save Minnesota hundreds of millions of dollars each year. For example, more than $1.3 billion would be added to Minnesota’s economy by 2020 if students of color graduated at the same rate as white students.

What can you do?

This month the Minneapolis Public Schools and the Minneapolis youth Coordinating Board have organized a “We Want You Back” campaign to encourage un-enrolled youth to return to school.

On September 11, a national day of service, hundreds of volunteers will be canvassing Minneapolis neighborhoods to connect with un-enrolled students and give them options for completing their high school education.

Adults will also receive information about Adult Basic Education and other options to get their diploma or GED.

  • To get more information about volunteering for the September 11 event, go to WeWantYouBackMpls.org.
  • To learn more about new school programs and options for un-enrolled young people, contact Mary Barrie, Minneapolis Public Schools, 612-668-0721 or mary.barrie@mpls.k12.mn.us
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