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Being Stupid Is Expensive August 16, 2007

Posted by fitsnews in SC Politics.

dumb people


FITSNews – August 16, 2007 – According to a report released today by the S.C. Policy Council, having the nation’s worst public schools costs our state about $100 million annually. We know it’s pretty shocking that South Carolina’s last-in-the-nation graduation rate isn’t good for business, but in reality it’s no more shocking that us using sarcasm to make a point.

And here’s the point we’re making … taxpayers have poured an extra $1 billion into our state’s ridiculously sh*tty school system over the last four years only to watch it remain dead last in the country in graduation rates and SAT scores. Now, on top of that already colossally-expensive, unmitigated failure, we find out these nimrod education establishment types have cost our state another half-billion dollars over the same time period.

Among the key findings of the report:

•Each dropout costs SC an additional $3,193 each year – SC spends more on dropouts in their lifetimes after they leave school than while they were in school

•Dropouts earn $8,000 less per year, totaling $2.8 billion less in lost wages per year

•Dropouts are twice as likely to be incarcerated, and each class of dropouts increases annual incarceration costs by $3 million

•Dropouts reduce South Carolina tax revenue by $277 million per year

•Dropouts disproportionately rely on Medicaid, and create higher health care costs for all South Carolinians

•School choice program could improve graduation rates, save state millions of dollars

Of course, the best part of this report is that South Carolina’s mainstream media will likely ignore its findings – or at least make it out to be part of some vast, right-wing conspiracy. In fact, La Socialista‘s supposedly impartial education reporter Bill Robinson was in attendance at the press conference unveiling the report today, attacking its findings and parroting the State Department of Education’s decades-old talking points.



1. Don Johnson - August 16, 2007

$100 million says the education establishment uses that first stat:

“Each dropout costs SC an additional $3,193 each year – SC spends more on dropouts in their lifetimes after they leave school than while they were in school”

as an excuse for more funding. “We need to spend that money now, rather than later.”

I can’t wait for Bill Robinson’s “report” tomorrow.

2. schotline - August 17, 2007

Yeah but REX is going to fix all that by hiring a bunch of folks to into the schools and give out hugs…

3. Reefer - August 17, 2007

Maybe i’m being cold-hearted, but since when does their failure obligate us to put them on the gravy train? Can’t we, as a society, tell them this? Maybe tell their f***-up parents the same thing while we’re at it?

4. Rob W. - August 17, 2007

Although the report makes some good points, there’s some funny number-crunching in there. In addition to just plain sneaky statistics (see the title on figure 1 page 9, in which they happen to leave out 170,000 college graduates who also have advanced degrees), the report seems to have this reasoning:

1. People who drop out of school have a much higher unemployment rate (13%) than people who graduate (just) high school (8%).
2. If everyone graduates, these people will go from being 13% unemployed to 8% unemployed.
3. Therefore, if everyone graduates, the unemployment rate will plummet.

This leaves out an unmentioned assumption:
2.5 There are a large number of jobs waiting to be filled that aren’t utilizing the current pool of high school grads.

There’s obviously a problem with this one, since an unemployment rate of 8% means that there’s quite a variety of unemployed high school grads. Producing more of them won’t help high school grads get a job- that’s supply and demand. The jobs simply aren’t there, and similar arguments can be made about the lost wages (2.8 billion) and lost tax revenue (277 million)

I agree that having a higher graduation rate might attract businesses to South Carolina, which could produce some of these jobs, but the paper specifically leaves this out of it’s calculation (top of page 15).

The other question to ask is if dropping out of school is the cause of these social ills or just a symptom of some other problem. I think the answer is both; that we can’t say that dropouts commit more crime just because they drop out, but at the same time we have to acknowledge that it’s a factor. Once more, we can’t say that eliminating dropping out will drastically reduce any of these social ills (as the report claims).

The graduation rate is an important indicator for the state, and we all need to find a way to improve both that and our education system as a whole. Even if I find some numbers questionable, I agree with the authors that this is a large problem with serious social implications.

The point of the report was to tell us that school choice is necessary for South Carolina because it boosted graduation rates in certain areas. Although I have not read the article they cite, the authors do point this out about their source:

“Assessing the impact of competition from private schools on nearby public school graduation rates requires sophisticated statistical methods. Few studies have employed methods rigorous enough to sufficiently control for confounding influences and thus estimate the true relationship.”

Judging from the first part of the article, I’m not sure I trust the “sophisticated statistical methods” that “few studies have employed”. Any mathematicians out there want to help us out with that one?


[…] by the FITSNews story; ‘I see dumb people’; I bought this awesome Nikon camera yesterday. The camera takes about twenty-gazillion frames per […]

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