It's not all doom and gloom
Or in our language, lower enrollments and budget cuts. But of course, those are coming. The Week has five things that are improving, and number four is listed below.
4. Graduation rates are improving
The more you learn, the more you earn. The correlation is clear as a bell: The national unemployment rate in November for adults with no high school diploma was 10.8 percent. For those with a high school diploma: 7.3 percent. Even better, if you have a bachelor's degree or more, the unemployment rate is 3.4 percent. So it's encouraging to see that in today's high-skill, high-knowledge economy, 78.2 percent of high school students graduated on time in 2010 — the best rate since 1974. The Department of Education says gains were widespread, with Latinos — the fastest-growing population bloc — showing the strongest increase.
How have we done it? Among the helpful initiatives: Flex schedules and online teaching so students with jobs or babies can earn credits; requiring struggling kids to give up cushy electives for intensive tutoring in reading and math; and sending school officials door to door to encourage truants into returning to class.
There's tons of room for improvement, though. Graduation rates for minority kids still trail white kids by wide margins, with about one third of black students and 29 percent of Latino students dropping out before graduation.