dropout rate
summer jobs program
August 17, 2011

Fighting Dropouts

A California program is working to turn near-dropouts into graduates.

Justin: On the other side of this door is opportunity at a summer jobs program called Youth Uprising. It is based in East Oakland, California, and students here earn cash for acing computer classes, which double as job skills.

“They are giving people the chance to make something out of their lives.”

Justin: It is a chance that many youth in East Oakland need, and a growing number of young people nationwide could use as well.

Studies show dropping out of school can set you back for the rest of your life. High school drop outs earn an average of 200,000 less than a high school graduate and about a million dollars less than a college grad.

In California, about one in five students drops out of high school before graduation. And, in Oakland, new stats show a four-year graduation rate of only 53%.

“Its dropout rate is 37%.”

Justin: From coast to coast, dropout rates are highest among minorities. And that is also true in Oakland, where only 68% of Hispanics, 59% of African-Americans, and 56% of students learning English made it to graduation.

Some Oakland students blame their environment.

“It’s hard to focus in class with your stomach growling, sirens heck-a loud. Like the school might get on lockdown.”

“Like, if you look at all our textbooks, they’re all ripped and written in and stuff. And we just don’t have anything new.”

“Nothing good to learn out of.”

Justin: But other students say the key to doing well in school is taking responsibility.

“They worry far too many of their friends aren’t realizing you have to work hard to be successful.”

“People don’t take the value of education seriously, especially given that studies show life without a high school degree can be tough on our country.”

Justin: Experts say dropouts cost billions to federal welfare and medical programs, and the prison system because dropouts are more likely to end up behind bars, reasons why Oakland’s school system is focusing on keeping its high schoolers in class.

“We’ve made great gains with the younger kids, but we haven’t always been able to sustain those as they migrate through the system.”

Justin: Justin Finch, Channel One News.


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