Class Warfare Blog

May 22, 2017

High School Graduation Rates Going Up? Maybe . . .

Filed under: Education — Steve Ruis @ 7:49 am
Tags: , , ,

The Brookings Institution published a piece on high school graduation rates. According to that piece, studies show high school graduation rates had been higher in the 1970s, for example, but from 1990 to 2007 they had been “stable” in the 71%–75% range, but since then have crept up to 82%. Their point was that the statistics, while being soft, were also unexplained; we don’t know why they declined and we don’t know why they have increased lately.

I don’t know either, but I’d be willing to bet a dollar that the cause is that high school students aren’t leaving high school because they got a good job as much as they used to. The years 2007-2008 were pivotal. That is when the Great Recession began. Since then young people have witnessed the impact of the shitty job market and the wage suppression efforts of the plutocrats’ effects on their parents. The economic uncertainty of those parents trickled down to their children, no matter how hard they tried to shield them from it. So, the pressure to “stay in school” was higher and the opportunities to take a “good job” in lieu of graduating were many fewer. Both could increase the high school graduation rate.

Congratulations economy destroying capitalists!

I graduated high school in 1964 and at that time, not everyone went to college. You didn’t even consider it unless you had B average grades. Many of my classmates went off into the world of work right away. It was “normal.” Now, it seems that the only path forward recommended to high school students is college. Trade apprentice programs, the military, technical schools, all of the alternatives available when I was young seem to be no longer in favor. Granted, community colleges offer certificates in cosmetology and welding and auto mechanics, filling the “trade school” gap somewhat, but children are actively discouraged from going into trades for the most part.

So, apparently my generation has effed up the economy of this country sufficiently that while we were unable to use the “scared straight” approach to stop drug use, we apparently have done a good job of scaring youths straight to high school graduation.


  1. I think another factor may also have to do with No Child Left Behind and similar laws that created an incentive for schools to improve their graduation rates.


    Comment by List of X — May 23, 2017 @ 10:51 am | Reply

    • And those schools did … what? I am sure there are many, many factors. My point was that dropping out of school is more punitive now than any time in the recent past, and I think kids know this.

      On Tue, May 23, 2017 at 10:51 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 23, 2017 @ 10:55 am | Reply

      • It is more punitive now, I agree. But I’m not sure that most of the kids who are in danger of dropping out are responsible enough to ponder the ramifications of dropping out on their future careers.


        Comment by List of X — May 23, 2017 @ 11:02 am | Reply

        • I don’t think it takes pondering. I think it is more visceral, noting their parents and friends parents struggling, etc.

          I don’t think dropping out of school is a rational decision, I think it is more visceral.

          On Tue, May 23, 2017 at 11:02 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:



          Comment by Steve Ruis — May 23, 2017 @ 11:27 am | Reply

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