Saving a Drop Out Saves Money
The primary goal of the Academy of Greene County is to enable at-risk students who may not graduate from high school to earn enough credits to obtain their high school diploma. Students who enter society without graduating become an economic burden on society. In fact, research by Cecilia Rouse, professor of economics and public affairs at Princeton University, shows that each dropout, over his or her lifetime, costs the nation approximately $260,000 (Rouse, 2005). Each year, the Academy makes it possible for approximately 17 students to graduate, saving taxpayers $4,420,000.00 The additional cost to a school district, above the regular cost of a high school education, to educate just one student at the Academy for four years is about $5,660.00. It’s truly a matter of pay now or pay later. And it’s far less expensive to pay now.
Students drop out of high school for a number of reasons, according to Amy Baldridge, Program Director. Some are lonely and suffering from depression. Others have become habitually truant from school or have been frequently suspended or expelled. Many have an extensive history with the Greene County Juvenile Court, while others are involved with drugs or alcohol. By offering small class sizes and an individualized curriculum based upon each student’s level of achievement, the Academy is able to nurture and return responsible, ethical, educated, and self-sufficient students to the community.
Students who attend the academy are often willing to share their experiences with other potential drop outs. “When I first attended The Academy, I felt really out of place because I dressed different and acted different from the other students,” writes one student. “After a few weeks I was able to get to know the students a little better and realized how nice everyone was, especially the teachers. They help all the students here so much. I have straight A’s here and I can focus better. I know I wouldn’t have been able to graduate, especially with A’s, at the high school. I love The Academy.”
One of our seniors shared, “It’s the only way I can see myself graduating,” while a younger student describes his experience as “a second chance to make it.” Several talk about the faculty: “Teachers are actually people!” “We get a lot of respect.” “Caring teachers are really helpful and it was a good experience.”
Unless high schools across the nation are able to graduate their students at higher rates, more than 12 million students will drop out during the course of the next decade. The result will be a loss to the nation of $3 trillion. High school graduates, on the other hand, provide both economic and social benefits to society. In addition to earning higher wages, which results in attendant benefits to local, state, and national economic conditions, high school graduates live longer (Muennig, 2005), are less likely to be teen parents (Haveman et al., 2001), and are more likely to raise healthier, better-educated children. In fact, children of parents who graduate from high school are themselves far more likely to graduate from high school than are children of parents without a high school degree (Wolfe & Haveman, 2002). High school graduates are also less likely to commit crimes (Raphael, 2004) or rely on government health care (Muennig, 2005).
Dr. Amy Baldridge and the faculty of The Academy of Greene County are doing their part to help. Since its inception during the 2000-01 school year, The Academy has made it possible for over 200 students to graduate from high school. For more information about the Academy, contact Dr. Baldridge at 937-848-6131.