Video: High School Dropouts

Tired of school, homework, classes, and teachers? Think dropping out of school would be a good solution? Think again. High school dropouts in the 1950s were able to support themselves and their families, but that is not true today. Technological changes have made jobs more complex and low skill jobs have almost disappeared. Workers in manufacturing plants today have to know how to work using computers. Teamwork is a valued skill, and they have to be able to handle complicated procedures and think on their feet. Dr. Robert Hughes, the deputy director of the Youth Challenge Program, says that low skill jobs are entry level jobs. While it is fine to flip burgers part time as a student worker, it would be a dead-end job to do that for 40 years. As the job market has shrunk, more former students are returning to get their GEDs. Mary Smith, a 41-year-old GED seeker acknowledges how tough it is to go back to school. Volunteers participate in the Youth Challenge Program, a 22-week residential program for dropouts aged 16-19. They put in 16-hour days, exercise, and study hard. Participants have already learned that many doors are shut to people with a limited education. Without a diploma, a person is twice as likely to live in poverty, and over the course of a lifetime, high school graduates will earn a half million dollars more than dropouts.

Teacher tip: Divide the class into two groups. Ask one group to set up an interview by telephone or e-mail with a student dropout and find out why the person dropped out and what he or she is doing now. More than one person could be interviewed. The other group should research the dropout problem in Georgia and report to the class. As a class, synthesize the information from both groups and make recommendations for lowering Georgia’s dropout rate.