Friday, April 3, 2009

Teens, Education Experts and Political Leaders Discuss Dropout Crisis at National Teen Town Hall Meeting in Atlanta

/PRNewswire / -- A new survey released today by Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) and Taco Bell Foundation for Teens (TBFT) shows that 31% of teens say getting a job to support themselves or their family is the biggest obstacle they face in graduating from high school; a majority (54%) say the election of President Obama makes them much more hopeful about their future education.

Every 26 seconds, another teen drops out of high school, and 30% fail to graduate annually. BGCA and TBFT are bringing together teens from across the country, along with education and political experts, to participate in a Teen Town Hall meeting today in Atlanta to discuss the survey findings, the escalating graduation crisis, and possible solutions.

"Boys & Girls Clubs of America is committed to making a significant impact on high school teen dropout rates," said Roxanne Spillett, president, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "BGCA's efforts will promote the importance of a high school education, build school-parent partnerships, identify and retain high-risk youth, and implement comprehensive programs."

Town Hall panelists include Andrew Young, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.; Bob Wise, former Governor of West Virginia and president of the Alliance for Excellent Education; Ron Clark, founder, The Ron Clark Academy; Ron Fairchild, executive director, National Center for Summer Learning, Johns Hopkins University; and Roxanne Spillett, president/CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Panelists and teens will discuss the teen graduation crisis and develop suggestions for change that will be delivered to political leaders in DC.

"The dropout crisis is a responsibility we all share and one that seriously threatens the future of our country," said Bob Fulmer, executive director of the Taco Bell Foundation for Teens. "We are committed to bring money, awareness and volunteers to this cause so more teens have the foundation they need to succeed."

The Teen Graduation Crisis Survey was conducted in March 2009 and completed by nearly 1,000 respondents, ages 13-18 years old and living in the United States. The survey was conducted by Survey Monkey, an objective, third-party online survey tool. The margin of error for the survey is +/- 2 %.

Survey Highlights ( for complete survey):

-- More than half (54%) of teens report that the election of President
Obama has made them much more hopeful about their future education;
27% say Obama's election to office has made them somewhat more
-- Seventy-four percent of teens know someone who has dropped out of high
school. When asked what those dropouts were doing now, 48% said they
were unemployed; 54% said raising a child; 39% said working in a
low-paying job; 29% said involved in a gang; and only 12% said the
dropouts they knew were in a successful career.
-- Parents/guardians are the authority figures that have the strongest
influence on teens to stay in school and graduate (62%); followed by
grandparents (8%); and coaches and teachers/school officials (8% and
7% respectively).
-- Getting a job to support themselves or their family is the biggest
obstacle in graduating from high school, according to nearly one third
of respondents (31%); followed by not being able to keep up with
school work (17%); boredom (15%); negative peer pressure (11%); lack
of support/motivation (9%); safety (4%) and bullying (3%).
-- Training for real life jobs was the #1 response (32%) to the question:
What does your school need more of? Followed by state-of-the-art
technology (14%); better library/more books and resources (10%); and
more language offerings (7%).
-- The #1 issue that teens would like the current White House
Administration to address is the cost of college (24%); followed by
drugs/alcohol abuse (15%), crime/violence (14%), teen pregnancy (14%)
and high school dropouts (8%).

-- Ten years from now, 32% of teens expect to earn $100,000 or more
annually in their careers; 42% expect to earn between $50,000 and

By the Numbers (According to National Statistics)
-- Nearly one-third of all public high school students -- and nearly one
half of all African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans -- fail
to graduate with their class*.
-- 88% of youth had passing grades when they dropped out of school; 91%
of those dropouts said they knew that graduating was vital to their
future success. (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)

-- If the students who dropped out of the class of 2008 had graduated,
the U.S. economy would have benefited from an additional $319 billion
in income over their lifetimes. (*Bridgeland, John; DiIulio, John,
Jr.; Morison, Karen Burke (2006). The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of
High School Dropouts. Washington DC: Civic Enterprises.)

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