It’s Called the Economics of Education

"A vigorous, successful public education system is essential to Georgia’s economic prosperity." That is the second sentence of a recent report from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.

But you could substitute Georgia for the name of any other state. No matter the location, other key elements in the study also apply:

  • Main headline: Making the Connection: Why High School Graduation and Work Readiness Matter
  • How about this quote: "The best economic stimulus package is a high school diploma."
  • Or this pullout, in which the specific state numbers may vary, but the message is the same: "Approximately 50.7 percent of Georgia’s high schools are dropout factories — schools in which less than 60 percent of the freshmen class graduate on time."

The message is far from new. Even some of the factors contributing to the shortfall in Georgia have been cited in Indiana and elsewhere. They include sections on Early Life Experiences, Academic Achievement in Every Grade and Transition to Work or Postsecondary Education.

One of my favorite tools, and one you think would have an impact due to its straightforward approach, compares educational attainment to unemployment rates and average wages. We presented a similar chart in our lead story in the March-April BizVoice on higher education collaboration. The numbers, from the Georgia report:

  • Less than a high school diploma, 14.6% unemployment, $23,608 approximate annual earnings
  • High school grad, no college, 9.7% unemployment, $32,552 earnings
  • Some college/associate’s degree, 8.0% unemployment, $37,752 earnings
  • Bachelor’s degree and higher, 4.6% unemployment, $59,124 earnings

Read the study from Georgia here. It’s a shame these points have to be continually made instead of a total emphasis on improving our education systems to meet the glaring needs.