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High school dropouts costing state over $2 billion, report finds
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TUSD high school dropout rates


2007-2008 (most recent information)

Turlock High School               1.7%

Pitman High School                0.8%

TUSD                                      2.8%

Stanislaus County                   5.2%

California                                3.9%


4-year period

TUSD                                      11%

Stanislaus County                   20%

California                                15.3%


Information provided by TUSD staff           

California high school drop outs are not only hurting themselves but costing the state billions of dollars, according to the California’s High School Dropouts: Examining the Fiscal Consequence report released on Sept. 15 by the Foundation for Educational Choice.

“We all know that a dropout pays a high personal and financial price for not earning a diploma, but so do all California taxpayers,” said Robert Enlow, president and chief executive officer of the Foundation for Education Choice. “In times like these, California can’t afford to keep subsidizing a broken educational system. It hurts every taxpayer’s bottom line, not just the student who drops out.”

The study found that California’s high school dropouts earn $14,226 less a year than those who graduate high school, which totals to about $412,000 in lost income over their lifetimes.

Dropping out of high school not only costs them potential income, but it costs California $958 million in lost state tax revenue annually.

“Of all the states in the union, California is surely the one that could use an extra billion in its state coffers right now,” Enlow said. “Unfortunately, these astronomical public costs are the consequences of enabling a failing system. To break this cycle and ensure that all students graduate and get a good job, we must offer families more educational choice.”

The study also found that dropouts have a higher rate of incarceration, addiction and are more likely to receive government assistance with almost half of the high school dropouts enrolled in Medicaid.

If the dropout rate was permanently cut in half, California would receive $1.4 billion in economic benefits annually.

“That’s real money that the Governor and state Legislature desperately need to balance the budget right now,” Enlow said.

But with all the California high school drop outs, Turlock students only slightly contribute to the increased rates.

According to the most recent numbers provided from the 2007/2008 school year, the Turlock Unified School District had a dropout rate of 2.8 percent. Stanislaus County’s dropout rate was 5.2 percent and the state’s dropout rate was 3.9 percent, according to the California Department of Education.

“Our district is way below the county and state dropout rates,” said Sonny Da Marto, TUSD superintendent.

Within the 2007/2008 school year, only 1.7 percent of Turlock High School students dropped out and 0.8 percent of Pitman High School students dropped out, he said.

“Our high schools have one of the lowest dropout rates in California,” Da Marto said.

The California State Department of Education also measures dropout rates in a period of four years from when the student started as a freshman to their senior year. Those numbers up to the 2007/2008 school year are 11 percent for TUSD, 20 percent for Stanislaus County and 15.3 percent for the state.

Even with the low TUSD dropouts, there are still 3.8 million high school dropouts in California, according to the report.