Wednesday, April 09, 2008

American Tragedy

(A photo of Detroit, the city with the lowest high school graduation rate.)

Richard Florida continues to convince me with further evidence that where you live can play a large role in life outcomes. Unfortunately, this time it is with extremely sad statistics:

Here is a list of urban school systems where the projected high-school graduation rate is less than FIFTY percent. The overall average by the way for the nation's 50 largest cities is - get this - 51.8 percent.

Philadelphia Philadelphia City School District - 49.6
Miami Miami-Dade County School District - 49.0
Oklahoma City Oklahoma City Public Schools - 47.5
Denver Denver County School District - 46.3
Milwaukee Milwaukee Public Schools - 46.1
Atlanta Atlanta City School District - 46.0
Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City School District - 45.7
Oakland, Calif. Oakland Unified - 45.6
Los Angeles Los Angeles Unified - 45.3
New York New York City Public Schools - 45.2
Dallas Dallas ISD - 44.4
Minneapolis, Minn. Minneapolis Public Schools - 43.7
Columbus, Ohio Columbus Public Schools - 40.9
Baltimore Baltimore City Public School System - 34.6
Cleveland Cleveland Municipal City Sch.Dist. - 34.1
Indianapolis Indianapolis Public Schools - 30.5
Detroit Detroit City School District - 24.9

The full list is here.

Ponder the implications of this from everything to human development, crime, social cohesion, and economic competitiveness.

Seeing numbers below 50% is particularly tragic. This is indicative of the future of those cities, the quality of the educational systems, and most importantly, the likely future prospects of the youth of those cities.

The statistics for Detroit make make me particularly grateful my parents left Michigan for the DC area years before I was born.

The Wall Street Journal argues that these statistics show why we need school choice now more than ever.

I would be curious to see a breakdown of the graduation rates based on gender, race, and income level. I would expect to see a much higher graduation rate for girls than for boys, meaning that the rates for boys are far worse than what is represented here. Either these statistics are wrong or else places like Detroit may be graduating near-zero rates of boys from high school. When boys don't graduate from high school, high rates of crime are almost certain to follow.

This truly is an American tragedy.

No comments: