Is Your City or State a Dropout Factory?


By: Richard Kraneis

It’s Sad, we know what Dropout Means.

When you use the phrase dropout, most everyone knows you’re referring to a high school dropout.

But What’s a Dropout Factory?

The phrase dropout factory is new. It was coined approximately in 2006 by a John Hopkins researcher named Robert Balfanz. The Associated Press paid John Hopkins University to research grades 9-12 dropout data compiled by the U.S. Department of Education.

If a high school senior class had 60 students or less when they began with 100 students as freshmen, the school is considered a dropout factory. The school has a dropout rate of 40% or more in the first 3 years of attendance. This rate doesn’t even include the dropout rate of the senior class.

Who Cares if Another City or Another State is a Dropout Factory?

We all should care.

If you’re the dropout, you care. You won’t make as much as your friends who graduated from high school. Your children won’t do as well. You’re more apt to be sick, pay less in taxes, and more likely to end up in jail.

You might be a taxpayer 50 miles away from a high school dropout city and think you’re not affected. But your tax dollars subsidize dropouts. Dropouts pay less taxes and require more federal and state tax dollars than their high school graduate counterparts. So even if you’re a successful college graduate living next to a high school that graduates 90 % or more of its students, you’re still subsidizing high school dropouts.

How Much Does Each Dropout Cost Society?

Over a quarter million dollars over their lifetime.

In October 2009, Northeastern University estimated that helping one dropout re-enroll and earn a diploma would save society $292,000 over the lifetime of that dropout (who graduated). Why so much? Lower social costs for jail, health care, and welfare. Higher revenues from income taxes and real estate taxes. Read the Northeastern University study called the American Gulag.

What Can You Do?

Learn more about dropout factories and where they are located. The human and societal cost of dropout factories in the United States is high. Re-enrolling students from dropout factories and helping them pass their GED is good public policy.

About The Author

Richard Kraneis is a computer training consultant, e-book author, and an aspiring online marketer. Online marketing on the Internet reminds him of his favorite hobby, fishing. His website is