Monday, September 28, 2009

"Tune in, turn on, drop out" remains popular

"Interventions pay for themselves," [CDRP Director Russell W. Rumberger] said, noting that the state will see $2 in savings for every $1 invested.

The latest iteration of the California Dropout Horror Story (rivaled only by the Texas Dropout Horror Story, which tends to involve creationists and chainsaws) is focused on correlations between high school dropout rates and juvenile crime costs. Not juvenile crime exactly, but the costs. That seems fair in the climate of a depressed economy, as it can get people's attention. For example, the story containing the pullquote above:
Dropouts costing California $1.1 billion annually in juvenile crime costs
Study finds that cutting the dropout rate in half would save $550 million and prevent 30,000 juvenile crimes a year. Law enforcement urges more dropout-prevention programs.

By Seema Mehta
September 24, 2009

High school dropouts, who are more likely to commit crimes than their peers with diplomas, cost the state $1.1 billion annually in law enforcement and victim costs while still minors, according to a study being released today.

The California Dropout Research Project at UC Santa Barbara found that cutting the dropout rate in half would prevent 30,000 juvenile crimes and save $550 million every year.

There are similar stories around the state right now. The similarities are possibly due to a nonprofit's letter that is making the rounds and getting law enforcement signatures-- as well as legislature attention. It's apparently one of those letters that a police chief or county supervisor would have to explain not signing. In any case, California has a relatively low-cost bill in the pipeline, Senate Bill 651, that would focus on dropout trends-- the kind of bill you'd think was already in existence.

The original research behind the stories (and the above chart that triggered my writing this post) is by UC Santa Barbara's California Dropout Research Project. I find this project of interest well beyond the immediate story. For example, I already knew the trend shown in the chart for African American students but appreciated their particular focus. Now that I've convinced my online colleague Prometheus 6 to add a "Research studies of the obvious" category I hope I won't have to apply it to this group.

No comments: