SC Grad Rates Anchored at the Bottom of the Sea

Education Week has come out with its state-by-state graduation rate statistics and once again South Carolina is at the back-of-the-pack, losing out to such poorly educated states as Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and the beleaguered District of Columbia. Can you guess the low proportion of SC students who graduate from high school? Check your answer here.

Aside from damaging SC pride and making it impossible staying competitive with other states and nations, our enormous dropout rate harms us in other ways.

According the Federal Government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, a student with a college diploma is  likely to earn more than twice as much as someone without a high school degree and also less than half as likely to be unemployed. Today, half of South Carolina students are being put at higher risk of economic insecurity, all thanks to our miserable graduation rate.

Believe it or not, this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of outcomes that can be traced to education attainment levels. Everything from health levels to incarceration rates is statistically correlated to education.

The purpose of highlighting the poor performance of South Carolina’s taxpayer-funded schools is not primarily to fuel a hissing match between adults. The point is to recognize that we must change our system rather than letting politicians like Jim Rex tell us everything will be okay.

If a certain school isn’t working for a child, a parent should be able to choose one that can get the job done. Period. Parents need every available option including independent schools, charter schools, home schools, parochial schools, church schools—in short, all willing participants should be included in helping solve our crisis. Given the severity and persistence of the problem, the Establishment’s excuses won’t cut it anymore.

Again: our graduation rates are the worst in the nation, severely hampering the life prospects of future generations. Shouldn’t we be demanding more for our children?

Unemployment Rate (2006) Education Attained Median Weekly Earnings ($)
1.4 Doctoral Degree 1,441
1.1 Professional Degree 1,474
1.7 Master’s Degree 1,140
2.3 Bachelor’s Degree 962
3.0 Associate Degree 721
3.9 Some College, No Degree 674
4.3 High School Degree 595
6.8 Less than High School Degree 419

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