The New Haven Register reports that Connecticut is among 10 states with the worst racial disparities in high school graduation rates.
A new study found that nationally only about 68% of students entering the 9th grade graduated with a regular diploma in 12th grade. That's bad enough, but the numbers for minority students are much worse:
Data reported in 2001 showed that only 50 percent of black students; 51 percent of American Indian students; and 53 percent of Hispanic students graduated from high school across the country, while 75 percent of whites graduated.The numbers are even worse for male minority students: 43% for black males, 47% for Native American males and 48% for Hispanic males.
In Connecticut, 82% of white students graduated from high school in 2001, compared to 61% of blacks; 50% of Hispanics, and 43% of American Indians.
The Connecticut State Department of Education doesn't seem too worried about this:
State Department of Education spokesman Tom Murphy noted that the study judged states based on the difference between minority and white graduation rates, not whether Connecticut’s minority students are dropping out more than those in other states.
"The gap is something we’ve been concerned about, but at the same time we have to also note that Connecticut’s students overall have a high graduation rate compared with the nation," he said.
The percentage of students dropping out of high school in Connecticut fell from 17.4 percent in 1995 to 10.8 percent in 2003, he said.
The Education Department should be more concerned about the students being left behind. Based upon U.S. census data from 1999, a high school drop out earns an average of $14,349 annually while a high school graduate earns $23,233. More importantly most businesses require worker with skills that require at least a high school diploma.
One of the report's findings is that segregation fuels the low graduation rate problem:
Low graduation rates show a strong relationship with indicators of school segregation and this relationship is independent of poverty. Moreover, in every state, districts with high minority concentrations had lower graduation rates than districts where whites were the majority. In Ohio, for example, the minority composition difference is pronounced even among the state’s largest districts, with a graduation rate gap of over 50 points between the majority white district of Westerville (81) and the majority minority district of Cleveland (30). This suggests that the growing segregation in public schools will likely contribute further to even lower minority graduation rates.
The report is a joint project between The Civil Rights Project at Harvard University, The Urban Institute, Advocates for Children of New York and The Civil Society Institute. The report is available here in pdf format.