Thursday, September 11, 2008

Every Child a Graduate...An Economic Stimulus Plan that Works

By Bob Wise, President, Alliance for Excellent Education,

All Americans—whether they have a direct connection with schools or not—have a personal stake in ensuring that every child becomes a high school graduate, prepared for success in college, the modern workplace, and life. Clearly, the students themselves suffer the most direct impact from dropping out of school, but the economy, social fabric, and security of the nation, states, and local communities are also affected.

Consider the 1.2 million students from the Class of 2008 who dropped out. Had those students graduated with their classmates, the nation’s economy would have benefited from an additional $319 billion in income over their lifetimes. Were the nation to cut its dropout rate in half, U.S. taxpayers could reap $45 billion annually. Indeed, in this time of declining stock markets, higher inflation, and rising unemployment, the best economic stimulus package for the economy is a high school diploma.

The stunning possible economic benefit to the nation of improving outcomes for academically undeserved youth should be a wake-up call for the nation. No longer can America afford to lose more than one million students every year. Already, the United States has started to slip in the international race to produce a workforce prepared for the demands of a global economy, falling from first in high school graduation rates to thirteenth.

Ensuring that all secondary students are prepared to succeed in college and work is a giant step in the right direction. Not only because American students must achieve at increasingly higher levels to compete for good-paying jobs, but because more high school graduates will benefit themselves and society for decades to come.

Realities, Challenges & Opportunities

1. Our educational system is in crisis and it requires urgent attention.

2. This educational crisis is challenging our competitiveness on the global stage and limiting the opportunities of our young people, particularly poor and minority students.

3. Our economic health, national security, and democratic institutions depend on well-educated citizens.

4. Our future prosperity and leadership in the world will be determined by our response to this educational crisis and our steadfast commitment to implementing solutions. American public education MUST meet the needs of ALL our children and respond to our nation’s growing diversity.

5. The most successful state education reform efforts led to the development of the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. This law represented a sea change in education with its commitment to high standards for all students. In the last six years, we have seen real improvements in student performance, yet we still have a long way to go. We must quicken the pace of reform.

6. The states, districts and schools that have embraced the core elements of reform are seeing remarkable progress. Their commitment to effective teachers and school leaders and measurable, high expectations for all students is making a significant difference.

7. We must renew our support for these effective principles of education reform – accountability for results, transparency, and measurable, high expectations for all students – and develop a broad public consensus to act. We must establish our common ground and join together to chart the additional bold steps necessary to quicken the pace of reform. We must mobilize and sustain the support necessary to create a public education system that meets the needs of every student and assures a more hopeful and prosperous future.

The crisis is real. Join the live web cast ( of the National Education Summit and add your voice and perspective to this important and timely conversation through the blog (