We at FundEducationNow.org have been traveling around the state talking about the economic importance of investing in a world-class education system. As a state, we have sent a clear and consistent message that we do not put a high value on education or on anything child-related. We consistently rank in the bottom quartile of states on all issues that effect children including education, health care, and juvenile justice.
However, there is a price to pay for this…and not just a moral one.
A new study out this week illustrates the clear link between dropout rates, unemployment rates and incarceration rates. This study outlines the massive economic cost to Florida when our schools fail our kids. The New York Times reports:
“The dropout rate is driving the nation’s increasing prison population, and it’s a drag on America’s economic competitiveness,” said Marc H. Morial, a former New Orleans mayor… “This report makes it clear that every American pays a cost when a young person leaves school without a diploma.”
The report puts the collective cost to the nation over the working life of each high school dropout at $292,000…that figure took into account lost tax revenues, since dropouts earn less and therefore pay less in taxes than high school graduates. It also includes the costs of providing food stamps and other aid to dropouts and of incarcerating those who turn to crime.
Our teachers give the best years of their lives to teach our kids. They cannot continue to do more with less. Florida’s high schools cannot fight the dropout crisis with sub-par funding. Summer school, vital dropout prevention programs, and seven period days are a few examples of things that Florida’s high schools are doing without and they face more cuts next year.
Florida ranks 16th in the nation in per capita spending on prisons.
Do you want to invest your tax dollar in a prisoner or a student?