The new task force brings
together advocates, educators, legislators and state agencies to
build on the governor's ongoing efforts to keep kids in school and
re-enroll those who drop out. Last year, the dropout rate for
Illinois students showed the greatest one-year improvement since
1994, the year the state began tracking this information.
creation of this task force builds on increased support for efforts
to re-enroll, teach and graduate students across Illinois. In the
current fiscal year, Blagojevich's budget includes $18.1 million for
the Illinois State Board of Education's Truant Alternative and
Optional Education Program and $18.5 million for the Regional Safe
Schools program -- a $500,000 increase in both programs over the
previous fiscal year. The budget includes an additional $24 million
to fund after-school programs at schools throughout the state.
"Two years ago, I signed legislation raising the dropout age from
16 to 17," Blagojevich said. "That law has helped, but we need to do
more. We need to find new ways to give at-risk kids the help they
need, so they stay in school, graduate, and go on to bigger and
Sponsored by state Rep. Calvin Giles, D-Chicago, and state Sen.
Kimberly A. Lightford, D-Maywood,
House Joint Resolution 87 establishes the Task Force on
Re-enrolling Students Who Dropped Out of School. The task force will
examine research and existing policies to develop ways to re-enroll,
teach and graduate students who left school before earning a high
school diploma. The task force is made up of public representatives
and legislators, along with individuals from the governor's office;
the Illinois State Board of Education; the departments of Human
Services, Children and Family Services, and Commerce and Economic
Opportunity; and the Illinois Community College Board. State Board
of Education Chairman Jesse H. Ruiz will chair the task force, which
plans to have a series of meetings throughout Illinois.
"This task force will address one of the biggest challenges in
our schools today," Ruiz said. "By bringing together educators,
business and government leaders, along with representatives from the
state's human service agencies, we will be able to look at the issue
in detail and make new recommendations for ways to address this
problem that affects the entire state. We are grateful to
Representative Giles, Senator Lightford and Governor Blagojevich for
bringing together this group to address this very serious issue."
"Out-of-school youth," Lightford added, "should be supported and
encouraged in a positive way -- as young people who want to
re-enroll back in school."
"We believe this is a great opportunity to address a problem that
has impacted our communities for years," said task force member
state Sen. Carol Ronen, D-Chicago. "Illinois is in a position to
develop real solutions on this issue, and we must support the many
young people who want to re-enroll in school."
The dropout rate for Illinois students last year showed the
greatest one-year improvement since 1994, the year the state began
tracking this information. As the dropout rate dropped to an
all-time low of 4.0 percent, the graduation rate increased to 87.4
percent, the highest rate in the state's history.
Research conducted by Northeastern University shows 174,168
Illinois youth ages 16 to 24 and 98,908 youth ages 16 to 21 have not
graduated from high school and are out of school. The majority of
these dropouts are from low-income areas of the state.
The benefit to the individual student includes increased wages.
Students without a high school diploma earn $516,000 less over their
lifetimes than people who have a high school diploma and some
Reducing dropout rates and re-enrolling students brings benefits
to the entire state as well. With Illinois employers experiencing a
shortage of skilled workers, re-enrolled students could provide the
additional workers necessary to meet the needs of Illinois' economy
and Illinois' businesses. The benefit to Illinois taxpayers is
$312,000 over the lifetime of a re-enrolled student who returns to
school and earns a high school diploma in terms of that person
paying more taxes and reducing costs for welfare services, mental
health and other dependency services, and being less likely to enter
prison or incur other costs related to crime.
The National Dropout Prevention Center/Network reports alarming
statistics showing the effects that dropping out of high school have
on the economy, crime, literacy and health.
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Each year's class of dropouts will cost the country over $200
billion during their lifetimes in lost earnings and unrealized tax
revenue. The estimated tax revenue loss from every male between the
ages of 25 and 34 who did not complete high school would be
approximately $944 billion, with cost increases to public welfare
and crime at $24 billion. Nationally, students from low-income
families have a dropout rate of 10 percent, with middle-income
families 5.2 percent and high-income families 1.6 percent.
Personal income and employment
High school graduates earn an average of $9,245 more per year
than high school dropouts. Between October 2001 and October 2002,
about 400,000 people dropped out of high school. The unemployment
rate for this group was 29.8 percent -- almost 13 percentage points
higher than the unemployment rate for recent high school graduates
who were not enrolled in college. In today's workplace, only 40
percent of adults who dropped out of high school are employed,
compared with 60 percent of adults who completed high school, and 80
percent for those with a bachelor's degree. Employment projections
show that jobs requiring only a high school degree will grow by just
9 percent by the year 2008, while those requiring a bachelor's
degree will grow by 25 percent.
High school dropouts are 3 1/2 times more likely than high school
graduates to be arrested in their lifetime, with 75 percent of
America's state prison inmates and 59 percent of the country's
federal prison inmates being high school dropouts.
The Alliance for Excellent Education found that efforts to
decrease dropout rates yield dramatic results, showing that a 1
percent increase in high school graduation rates would save
approximately $1.4 billion in incarceration costs, or about $2,100
per each male high school graduate. Their study further found that a
one-year increase in average education levels would reduce arrest
rates by 11 percent.
Alliance for Excellent Education research also found serious
health concerns related to dropping out of high school, with the
U.S. death rate for individuals with less than 12 years of education
2.5 times higher than the rate of those with 13 or more years of
education (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2003b).
The Illinois State Board of Education will facilitate the task
force, which will conduct public hearings throughout the Illinois to
discuss the impact of students who have left school without a high
school diploma on various regions of the state and to compare
Illinois data with other states in the region and across the
country. The task force met for the first time Oct. 3.
Individuals named to the task force:
Alternative Schools Network
Sheila Venson, Youth
Connections Charter School
Bradley Cox, Illinois
Association of School Administrators
Elaine Parker, John
A. Logan College
Illinois Association of School Boards
Illinois Education Association
Illinois Federation of Teachers
Bill Leavy, Greater
Westtown Community Development Corporation
Arne Duncan, Chicago
O'Connor, Chicago City Council Education Committee
Jesse H. Ruiz, State
Board of Education, task force chairman
Sen. Carol Ronen
Sen. Kimberly A.
Rep. Linda Chapa la
Rep. Monique Davis
Sen. Dan Cronin
Sen. Todd Sieben
Rep. Jerry Mitchell
Rep. Suzanne Bassi
Sally Veach, Illinois
State Board of Education, Accountability Division
Illinois Department of Human Services
Illinois Department of Child and Family Services
Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Bureau
of Workforce Development
Jeff May, Illinois
Community College Board
The task force will issue an interim report to the governor and
the General Assembly by Jan. 10, 2007, and will complete its work by
making final recommendations to the governor and the General
Assembly by Jan. 10, 2008.
[News release from the governor's