National Service Critical in Addressing “Dropout Epidemic” in America’s Schools

Dec 1, 2010

America’s Promise Alliance, Civic Enterprises, and Johns Hopkins University’s Everyone Graduates Center released its report, “Building a Grad Nation: Progress and Challenge in Ending the High School Dropout Epidemic,” detailing the progress and remaining challenges facing educational achievement among our nation’s youth yesterday.

The report found that the U.S. graduation rate increased from 72 percent in 2002 to 75 percent in 2008, and the number of schools where 40 percent or more of the students do not graduate fell by 13 percent during the same period. The report called for a “Civic Marshall Plan” to meet the goal set by President Obama and Secretary Arne Duncan earlier this year to increase the U.S. graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020.National service is a critical component of the plan, and central to many of its proposed recommendations, including the following:

  • Increased support from service organizations and non-profits to supplement educational and mentoring opportunities for students, working together with schools in a strategic and supportive manner.
  • Congressional reauthorization of funding for the Education Corps within the Serve America Act, which mobilizes national service participants to help students at risk of dropping out.

The Corporation for National and Community Service invests approximately $325 million through its programs to support many of the nation’s largest and recognized nonprofits and innovative programs addressing educational achievement and engagement. The agency is working with the Department of Education, community organizations, and nonprofits to bring all of the key partners to the decision table, and to work together to solve the challenges of our education system. Education is a Focus Area of the agency’s five year Strategic Plan, and one of its top priorities for the 2011 AmeriCorps grant competition.

Below are Patrick Corvington’s, CEO of the Corporation, remarks on the report.

“The main message of the report is that smart and sustained efforts transform schools and keep students engaged in learning until they leave with a diploma in hand.It is possible to ensure all children graduate because we know which students are unlikely to complete their education and we have the strategies that help them stay on track.But with one in four U.S. public school students still dropping out –including close to 40 percent of minority students - we have a long road ahead, and tackling this challenge must remain an urgent national priority.There is nothing more critical than making sure every school in every community delivers every young person the knowledge, passion and skills to enjoy lives of meaning, to fulfill their potential, and to compete in the global economy.

“Since our inception, education has been one of our top priorities, and it will be an even stronger focus in the years ahead. Every day, in classrooms across America, participants in national service programs are advancing educational engagement and achievement through teaching, tutoring, mentoring, counseling, running after-school programs, and offering other services to millions of students, largely in low-income communities. We are proud to support some of the organizations who are leading the charge on education reform and achieving results through a variety of effective and scalable education practices including service-learning, charter schools, parent involvement programs, college preparation, pre-school enrichment, childhood literacy, and early warning and intervention systems.”

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