They’re trying to put numbers to the cost of dropping out. A study released Wednesday attempts to show that people without a high school education are more likely to make less money and thus make less of a contribution to society and commerce. Dropouts have less money to buy things and pay less in taxes, and they are more likely to be on some kind of assistance program or in prison.
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Jack Wuest, head of the Chicago-based Alternative Schools Network, compares the person without a high school diploma to the person with one: “Over the lifetime of that kid, they’re going to return to society over $300,000 more in terms of higher earnings, in taxes paid, less incarceration, less health care costs,” he said. What’s more, he says, “Black high school dropouts age 18-34, on any given day, almost 29 percent of them are in jail in Illinois.” The Alternative Schools Network commissioned the statewide report by Northeastern University and is promoting an investment in programs that “re-enroll” those who have dropped out.