04.13.15

Baldwin Leads Senate Effort to Improve High School Graduation Rates

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) is leading an effort to call for robust funding in next year’s budget to support programs aimed at improving high school graduation rates and the rigor of high school coursework.

“With increasing numbers of jobs requiring some level of postsecondary education beyond high school, failure to graduate from high school makes it increasingly unlikely that high school dropouts will find good jobs in our changing economy,” wrote Baldwin in a letter sent to senate appropriations members who later this year will set funding levels for education programs. “Furthermore, of the students who do graduate high school, many are not prepared for college or the workforce, with 20 percent of college students needing remediation, according to federal data.”

In March, Baldwin introduced the Next Generation (NextGen) High Schools Act, a bill to help high schools that enroll traditionally underserved students in the development and implementation of comprehensive, evidenced-based reform. Currently, one-fifth of all students and nearly one-third of all students of color fail to graduate from high school on time, if at all. Unless high schools are able to graduate their students at higher rates, nearly 12 million students will likely drop out over the next decade, resulting in a loss to the nation of $1.5 trillion. 

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, if the nation had raised the graduation rate for the Class of 2013 to 90 percent, 610,000 additional or “new” graduates would be contributing to today’s local economies. These new graduates would likely earn as much as $157 billion in additional lifetime earnings. The additional spending and investments from this single class of new graduates would likely be enough to support as many as 62,000 new jobs.

For the Class of 2013, if the graduation rate for students of color had risen to 90 percent, these new graduates would have seen their earnings rise by $2.5 billion annually and would likely generate as many as 25,700 new jobs.

Learn more about the NextGen High Schools Act here.

Baldwin’s letter also calls for sufficient funding for the Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) programs that are authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

In addition to Baldwin, the letter was signed by Sens. Al Franken (D-MN), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Jack Reed (D-RI), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

Download the letter here.