Meridian Star


October 11, 2012

Without Pre-K, epidemic will continue

STARKVILLE —     Back in 2007, I wrote extensively about how Mississippi was attempting to deal with what was then called an “epidemic” dropout problem in Mississippi public education.

    The 2006 Mississippi Legislature created the state Office of Dropout Prevention. Legislators also called on the state's schools to increase their graduation rate to 85 percent by 2019.

    The legislation was a bipartisan expression of utter frustration over the lack of educational attainment and the scourge of the dropout problem in state where lawmakers were directing an overwhelming percentage of the state’s general fund budget to K-12 public education.

    The 2006 law also required each school district to implement a dropout prevention program by the 2008-2009 school year for the state office to approve.

    The proposal set the following formal goals:

    •Increase the state’s graduation rate for grades 9 through 12 from 61.1 percent to 85 percent by the 2018-19 school year.

    •Reduce the state’s dropout rate from 26.6 percent to 13 percent by the 2012-13 school year.

    •Reduce the state's truancy rate of 31.8 percent to 16 percent by the 2012-13 school year.

    The high rate of high school dropouts in Mississippi, with some school districts exceeding a 45 percent dropout rate, erodes the state's economy.

    The National Center for Higher Education Management Systems found that for every 100 students in the 9th grade in 1992 in Mississippi, only 59 graduated from high school and only 13 graduated from college.

    A 2005 study by the Southern Education Foundation found that each Mississippian had $9,570 less annual income than the average American and that 53 percent of the difference in per-capita income between Mississippi and the nation is due "solely to the state's lower levels of education."

    Did the legislative initiative work? The answer is a mixed bag. Educational advocates have challenged state reporting of high school graduation rates compared with federal or independent numbers.

    Has progress been made? Yes. The state’s dropout rate that was 26.6 percent in 2006 was down to 17 percent by 2010, according to the State Department of Education.  In 2009, the rate dropped as low as 16.8 percent.

    The Alliance for Excellent Education projects that failure to finish high school is costing Mississippi young people $1.6 billion in lost lifetime earnings. Moreover, the cost to the state’s economy is likewise projected to be staggering.

    Failure to finish high school by these Mississippi impairs $100 million in home sales, $8 million in auto sales, 500 new jobs, and $5.2 million in increased state tax revenue.

    Dropout prevention was a worthy legislative investment back in 2007. The problem remains a worthy legislative investment today and it’s one of the reasons that dramatic educational changes like charter schools and other innovations are gaining traction with the taxpayers.

    Sid Salter is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at 601-507-8004 or

Text Only
Biz Marquee
New Today

Do you think the city of Meridian gave residents adequate notice before beginning to drain Long Creek Reservoir?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide