What is the Real Reason Teenagers Drop Out of High School?

Christina Davenport, Stewart AM Period, Honorbound

When you walk through a high school, you will most likely hear a couple of students complaining about school. Whether it is about an impossible test, huge project or the annoying student that sits next to them in science class, people will always be complaining. Ironically, those who dropout of high school would rather be in that science class or enjoying “delicious” school lunches with their friends. Instead, they are out flipping burgers, parking cars or breaking their backs at a construction site.

But why drop out of high school and do a minimum wage job?

The answer is simple. They need the money. According to a new study by the Urban Institute, around thirty percent of students who drop out of school are between the ages of  sixteen and eighteen and are either Hispanic or first-generation immigrants. Many want to be in school but their families may rely on their financial help to make ends meet. Usually, these workers are hired to do low-skilled jobs and earn about $9,500 a year. In several circumstances, the student earnings are the difference between their families living above or below the poverty line. A students earnings rises forty two percent of poor households over the poverty line. The department of Health and Human Services sets the poverty line for a family of five at $28,410.

As if the harsh economic realities of these families are not enough, many parents, legal guardians or any other household authority figures often have graduated from college or even high school.  Majority have not even completed the eighth grade. Which is another reason many students may drop out and work. Their families have limited access to federal aid. Approximately seventeen percent receive social security or temporary assistance and only twenty three percent receive food stamps.

In whatever situation, we must help ensure that the youth who is employed still continues there education. And if many, low-income teens are dropping out to help their families or themselves finically, the methods of supporting these kids need to change. Although the country’s public school system cannot be blamed, these new methods to keeping students like these in school must go further than just programs primarily focused on academic or behavioral.

Kids that are willing to work hard in school, should not have to trade their futures to help carry their family’s short term finical problems.

Wheelan, Charles. Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2010, 56.

 

Koball, Heather. “Dropping Out and Clocking In. A Portrait of Teens Who Leave School Early and Work.” Urban Institute. April, 2015. Accessed June 19, 2017. http://www.urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/49216/2000189-Dropping-Out-and-Clocking-In.pdf

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