Tuesday, April 01, 2008

The Big Apple Is In Big Trouble...This Time It's Education!!!

Tuesday, April 1st 2008, 4:00 AM

New York City has one of the nation's sorriest graduation rates, with less than half of city high-schoolers earning a diploma on time.

That's according to a discouraging national study that will be released today by America's Promise Alliance - a group launched in 1997 by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, then-President Bill Clinton and ex-Presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

The group, which is planning to hold summits on the nation's dropout crisis in all 50 states and in all major cities over the next two years, took a sweeping look at graduation rates across the country, ranking New York 43rd among 50 large cities.

Using 2004 numbers - the most recent year for which national comparisons could be made - New York kids fared worse than their counterparts in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Miami.

With just 45.2% of city public school kids earning on-time diplomas that year, only Dallas, Minneapolis, Columbus, Baltimore, Cleveland, Indianapolis and Detroit saw a lower percentage of students succeed.

In Detroit, the graduation rate was a shocking 24.9%.

"It's an enormous waste of talent and time and resources," said Cary Goodman, whose Directions for Our Youth organization held a summit on the city's dropout crisis in February. "Unfortunately, New York has never made the dropout crisis the centerpiece of its work in education."

Andrew Jacob, a spokesman for Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, countered that, in fact, the graduation rate has been on the rise.

Though the city and state use somewhat different methodology to calculate the rate, Jacob said the rate has risen 9 percentage points since 2002.

Even using the most optimistic calculation of the city's graduation rate - including kids who earn GEDs and excluding special education students from the formula - only 60% of students graduated in 2006.

"This is an economic crisis as well as a moral crisis," said America's Promise Alliance President Marguerite Kondracke.

A study by her group found that one of every three U.S. high school students drops out before graduating - roughly 1.2 million kids every year.


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