The hidden cost of high school dropouts represents billions in lost income

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Find out how local schools fare Wednesday

By Carol A. Clark

New Mexico’s high school dropouts from the class of 2009 represent more than $3.4 billion in lost income, according to a report out of Washington, D.C.

 If the students who dropped out of New Mexico’s class of 2009 had graduated, the state’s economy would have benefited from more than $3.4 billion in additional income over the course of their lifetimes, a new issue brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education states.

"As these findings show, the best economic stimulus is a high school diploma,” said Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education. “Given the tremendous financial drag these dropouts will have on New Mexico’s economy, it is imperative that the state, as well as the federal government, focus attention on students most at risk of dropping out if it is to achieve long-term economic stability. In an Information-Age economy – education is the main currency.” 

Assistant Superintendent Kate Thomas of Los Alamos Public Schools explained this morning that the local district maintains a drop out rate much lower than the state average.

“We have perhaps the highest – if not the highest graduation rate in the state. On average, 81.6 percent of our students graduate while the state average is 54 percent,” Thomas said.

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