America faces a set of severe socioeconomic challenges that are unique and specific to rapidly changing dynamics of the globally competitive workforce and economy. The crisis is clear:

  • For the first time in history, American students are less likely to graduate from high school than their parents. The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world in which this is true.
  • By 2020 there will be 123 million high-skill, high-wage jobs available in the United States and only 50 million qualified Americans to fill them.
  • 75% of American youth do not qualify for the armed forces due to the lack of a high school diploma, physical obstacles such as obesity or criminal records. Among those who are qualified for the armed forces, many are not academically prepared – 30% don’t pass the military’s aptitude test.
  • Some 1.1 million American students drop out of school every year. (EPE, 2012).
  • Each cohort of dropouts costs the U.S. $192 billion in lost income and taxes. (Amos, 2008)
  • For African-American and Hispanic students across the country, dropout rates are close to 40 percent, compared to the national average of 27 percent. (EPE, 2012)
  • Our annual GDP could increase by as much as $525 billion if we were to close the gap between white students and their black and Latino peers. (McKinsey Study the Economic Impact of Closing the Achievement Gap in America’s Schools, 2009)
  • After World War II, the United States had the #1 high school graduation rate in the world. Today, we have dropped to # 22 among 27 industrialized nations. (OECD, 2012)
  • American students rank 25th in math, 17th in science and 14th in reading compared to students in 27 industrialized countries.(OECD, 2012)
  • More than 75 percent of employers report that new employees with four-year college degrees lacked “excellent” basic knowledge and applied skills. (“Are They Really Ready to Work?” sponsored by The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and the Society for Human Resource Management. Accessed January 15, 2008)
  • Less than half of American students – 46 percent – finish college. The U.S. ranks last among 18 countries measured on this indicator. (OECD, 2010)
  • Only one in four high school students graduate ready for college in all four core subjects (English, reading, math and science), which is why a third of students entering college have to take remedial courses. (ACT, 2011)
  • A dropout is nearly 20 times more likely to be in jail or prison as a college graduate. (Sum, Khatiwada, & McLaughlin, 2009)
  • If 5 percent more young men in high school graduated, America would see an annual savings of $4.9 billion in crime-related costs. (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2006)
  • Each year, the U.S. spends more than $31,000 per prison inmate, and less than $10,000 per student. (Cornman & Noel, 2011) (Delaney & Henrichson, 2012)
  • For the first time, most Americans think it is unlikely that today’s youth will have a better life than their parents. (Gallup poll, 2011)
  • Only 4 percent of Americans raised at the bottom of the economic ladder will rise to the top as adults. (“Pursuing the American Dream: Economic Mobility Across Generations; Pew Charitable Trusts, July,2012.)
  • The share of jobs in the U.S. economy needing a college degree will increase to 63 percent in the next decade. This will require 22 million new employees with college degrees. At the current pace, the nation will fall at least 3 million college degrees short. (A. Carnevale, N. Smith, and J. Strohl, Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Economic Requirements Through 2018 (Washington, DC: Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce, 2010))
  • Nearly 44 percent of dropouts under age 24 are jobless, and the unemployment rate of high school dropouts older than 25 is more than three times that of college graduates. (United States Department of Labor, 2012)
  • America could see a combined savings and revenue of almost $8 billion each year if even just 5 percent of all dropouts stayed in school and attended college. (Amos, 2008)
  • American social mobility is increasingly becoming a thing of the past. Nearly two-thirds of children born to parents in the bottom income quintile remain stuck in the lowest two quintiles as adults. (Haskins, Ron (February 2008). “Education and Economic Mobility”. In Isaacs, Julia B.; Sawhill, Isabel V.; Haskins, Ron. Getting Ahead or Losing Ground: Economic Mobility in America. Brookings Institution. http://www.brookings.edu/~/media/Files/rc/reports/2008/02_economic_mobility_sawhill/02_economic_mobility_sawhill_ch8.pdf.)
  • Despite sustained unemployment, employers are finding it difficult to hire Americans with the skills their jobs require, and many expect this problem to intensify. (”Getting Ahead…” Business Roundtable, 2009, and “An Economy that Works,” McKinsey & Company, 2011)
  •  Public schools in other countries are more of a lever for social mobility that help children of all backgrounds realize their potential than they are in the U.S. (OECD, June, Education at a Glance, 2012)

 

"Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another." - Gilbert K. Chesterton