2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Solving the Dropout Crisis

June 28, 2010

This post is fifth in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.

SOLVING THE DROPOUT CRISIS

Rick Perry may be willing to write off more than a fourth of the school age children in Texas, but Texans can’t afford to pay the price for Perry’s complacency in the face of the dropout crisis. Solving the dropout crisis is a priority for Texas Democrats because it threatens the economic well-being of all Texans, and failure to solve the dropout crisis could write off economic progress for an entire generation. Texas already has more low-wage and minimum wage workers than any other state, and in Texas dropouts earn $7,000 less per year than high school graduates. According to the state demographer, if these trends persist, by 2040, the average annual Texas household income will be $6,500 less than in the year 2000, at a cost to Texas of over $300 billion per year in lost income.

More than one-fourth of Texas high school students fail to graduate on time. For African American and Hispanic students, the dropout rate is more than one-third. Out of all 50 states, Texas has the highest percentage of adults who have not completed high school. However, in response to the Governor’s call for across-the-board budget cuts to address an $18 billion state budget shortfall, his Texas Education Agency recommended cutting programs that have helped keep kids in school and off the street. The economic consequences of such shortsighted policies are stark. Rick Perry’s refusal to address this dropout crisis is making Texas poorer, less educated, and less competitive.

Proper funding of all our schools to meet the needs of students who are most at risk of dropping out is essential. Specific solutions include:

  • school-community collaboration that brings educational and social services together under one roof to help at-risk students and their families;
  • expanded access to early childhood education, targeting at-risk students;
  • dual-credit and early-college programs that draw at-risk students into college and career paths while still in high school;
  • equitable distribution of highly qualified teachers, to change current practices that too often match the most at-risk students with the least experienced and least prepared teachers;
  • enforce daytime curfew laws to reduce truancy;
  • providing access to affordable programs for adults who have dropped out of the education process.

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