Dropouts are statistically at a disadvantage compared to their graduated counterparts. On average, high school dropouts make less money in a lifetime than high school graduates, and both groups make significantly less money than college graduates over the same lifetime. (See reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics at labor.dropoutmanifesto.com)
High school dropouts are even responsible for a significant portion of crime committed in the United States, leading us to believe that dropouts are a menacing group of individuals who threaten the very fabric of society as we know it. (See the report by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids at crime.dropoutmanifesto.com)
The problem with using these statistics to instill fear in high school students and parents is that there is an assumed correlation with dropping out and becoming a criminal. We may be tearing at the fabric of society, but only in that we educate ourselves (with or without institutions) and succeed in any variety of unconventional ways—not through criminal acts. The dropouts that account for the high rate of crime are more than frustrated students who found no value in school. We find often that they are from poor socioeconomic backgrounds and from low-income families and neighborhoods. The dropping out is just a symptom of these other more important factors.
When I say that we’re dropouts, I’m not talking about the last couple of kids you probably met who dropped out of high school. The ones who dropped out because they were just sick at school or mad at the system or frustrated at home. You might even be one of them: you dropped out not because you had a genius entrepreneurial plan but because you just couldn’t take it anymore. Maybe you made some bad decisions that prompted you to drop out and spend time around less than great people. You might even be one of the criminals that contributes to those statistics. That’s okay.
That’s not who dropouts are anymore, at least not after this book. To be a dropout and to be a criminal are two entirely different things, and as of now, are almost as far apart as the words “honest” and “politician”. There is no correlation with being a dropout and being a criminal. Yes, many dropouts seem to end up criminals once they leave school, but this has nothing to do with the fact that they don’t have a diploma. The problem is much deeper than that. It’s a community problem, a society problem, and a neighborhood problem—not a diploma problem.
If you don’t believe me, then ask yourself this: If we could get every single kid to graduate from high school this year and receive a diploma (a 0% dropout rate), what would happen to the crime statistics? Would crime dramatically fall, or would it stay the same, the only difference being that the crimes would now be committed by high school graduates?
Though you might disagree, to me and many others it’s clear that the crime rate wouldn’t drastically change, just the title that we give the criminals. We would get to label these criminals as high school graduates rather than dropouts. They’d still be criminals, and it would prove the point that being a dropout has little to do with being a criminal.
(That being said, if, in the scenario that we just put forth, the K12 education system could graduate every single student and educate them at a high level, then the crime rate truly would go down!)
As we have and will cover in the coming pages, the school system isn’t focused on that at all. When we say that we as a society will leave no child behind, we’re not improving our methods of education to do so. All that changed were the standards that we use to judge whether a student will graduate. Lowering the standards and allowing everyone to graduate and stay in school for as long as it takes to pass standardized tests is not educating them.
Again, we come to a disappointing conclusion.
School is not meant to educate in the slightest.
Graduation is more about compliance than anything.