Friday, November 06, 2009
sponsored by Graue Inc.

Education Task Force unites to tackle high school dropout crisis

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[November 06, 2009]  Seven members of the Healthy Communities Partnership's Education Task Force attended the Illinois Dropout Prevention Summit at the Bone Student Center on Illinois State University's campus on Wednesday.

RestaurantA report commissioned by America's Promise Alliance, the nation's largest alliance of organizations working on behalf of children and youth, found that only about half of all students served by the main school systems in the nation's 50 largest cities graduate from high school. In Lincoln, approximately 1 in 25, or 4 percent, of teens do not graduate with their class. Nationwide, nearly one out of every three public high school students drop out before graduation. That's 1.3 million each year, one every 26 seconds or nearly 7,200 each school day. 

"Far too many young people in Lincoln and across the nation are dropping out of school, leaving their future and that of our community at risk," said Heidi Browne, events coordinator at the Lincoln/Logan Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of the Education Task Force. "We need to come together as a community like never before to provide the necessary support to help our youth graduate from high school, so they are prepared for college and have the necessary skills to succeed in life."

Experts agree that the well-being and prosperity of our community and the nation are dependent upon an educated work force. By 2010, two-thirds of all jobs will require postsecondary instruction. Yet today, millions enter the work force lacking even basic skills for success. Young people who drop out are more likely to be incarcerated, rely on public programs and social services, and go without health insurance than those who graduate from high school. Experts estimate that dropouts from the Class of 2006-07 will cost the U.S. more than $329 billion in lost wages, taxes and productivity over their lifetimes.

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Alma Powell, chairwoman of America's Promise Alliance, was the summit keynote speaker. Powell, who co-founded the alliance with her husband, retired Gen. Colin Powell, stated: "We need to make sure every taxpayer understands that the 84,875 students in Illinois who dropped out of school in 2008 will lose an estimated $11 billion in earnings over their lifetimes. They will cost Illinois $255 million more in health care costs than if they had earned a diploma."

Research shows that the more support youth have, both inside and outside of the classroom, the more likely they are to stay in school. Specifically, research demonstrates that the more young people experience five essential wrap-around supports -- what the alliance calls the "Five Promises": caring adults, safe places, a healthy start, effective education and opportunities to help others -- the greater their chance for future success.

The Healthy Communities Partnership has been striving to improve the health and quality of life for the residents of Logan County since 1998, in order to create the healthiest community in America. For more information regarding the Healthy Communities Partnership or other partnership task forces, contact Kristi Lessen, director of the Healthy Communities Partnership, at 217-732-5066, or visit

[Text from file received from Healthy Communities Partnership]

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