A recent study proves cost of dropouts to the economy is having a serious impact both in the short term and over the lifetime of the student.
In Arizona alone, the cost to the state is $7.6 billion over a lifetime. .
The lifetime economic losses in Tucson were estimated at up to $435 million for the 1,140 people who failed to graduate in 202, according to the study released by several Arizona mayors, including Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild. For the towns of Oro Valley and Sahuarita, the lifetime cost amounts to $40 million and $31 million, respectively
The findings of the study, initiated by the Arizona Mayors Education Roundtable with support from the Helios Education Foundation, are “pretty stark,” said Rothschild, who says he hopes the grim statistics will serve as motivation for the community.
“Students who drop out of high school face poor prospects,” Rothschild said. “They’re less likely to find a job, less likely to earn a living wage, more likely to need public assistance, more likely to have poor health and more likely to commit crime. We know there’s a cost to the students themselves from dropping out, but what the study shows is the cost to the community, and it is substantial.”
With a state graduation rate of 80 percent, one in five students are not graduating on time. Cutting the number of dropouts in Tucson in half would generate more than $217 million in economic benefits. That would amount to about $3.8 billion across the state.
Initiatives are underway to address the issue including a Steps to Success walk, scheduled for next month in which Tucson Unified School District officials, Rothschild and other community partners will go door-to-door in hopes of persuading students to return to school.
Early intervention is key as attendance problems are an indicator of whether a student will drop out and begin as early as kindergarten