Some Utah "conservatives" want to make it easier to drop out of high school.
According to the Center for Labor Market Studies, barely more than 60% of high school dropouts between ages 16 and 24 worked in 2007, with average annual earnings of $8358. For their peers who finished high school but had no further education, just shy of 70% worked with average earnings of $14,601. For the same groups, 6.3% of drop-outs were incarcerated in 2006-2007, as compared to 1% of high school graduates.
Over their working lives, the average high school dropout will have a negative net fiscal contribution to society of nearly -$5,200 while the average high school graduate generates a positive lifetime net fiscal contribution of $287,000. The average high school dropout will cost taxpayers over $292,000 in lower tax revenues, higher cash and in-kind transfer costs, and imposed incarceration costs relative to an average high school graduate. Adult dropouts in the U.S. in recent years have been a major fiscal burden to the rest of society. Given the current and projected deficits of the federal government, the fiscal burden of supporting dropouts and their families is no longer sustainable.Yes, that's negative $5,200. Yet, wow... some legislators actually believe that creating more drop-outs is responsible fiscal policy.
Update: Eight states are participating in a much more sensible experiment that shifts some high school students into community college during what would otherwise be their 11th and 12th grades of high school. This approach costs more than keeping them in high school, and they must meet academic standards to be approved for the program, but the hope is that the program will keep kids who might otherwise drop out in an academic or vocational program that will lead them into decent jobs. Unfortunately it does not appear that the community college tuition will be fully funded.