This is good news, unquestionably. But why does it feel almost irrelevant? Given the deflation of the value of a high school diploma in getting a job and making a living wage, we’re more focused on college graduation rates. Also, most of us who are privileged enough to have kids for whom graduating High School was never in doubt may never really consider the challenges that those other kids face in getting that first walk down the aisle.
The improvement has been driven by steep gains among African-American and Hispanic students and by progress in shutting down hundreds of troubled urban schools dubbed “dropout factories.” And it’s not confined to one region of the country. Rural states such as Iowa, Vermont and Nebraska are among the best at keeping kids in school until graduation — but other top performers include Texas, Tennessee and Missouri, all of which serve large numbers of low-income students in densely populated cities.
I suppose this should be a big deal. It sure is a big deal to that 1.7 million kids who got degrees over the last decade that statistically wouldn’t have if not for the improvement. Congratulations to them.