Crime rates are directly proportional to dropout rates. The higher the dropout rate, the higher the crime rate. Of the students in the 50 largest U.S. cities, 41% drop out. The American Psychological Association reported in 2012 that 75% of crimes committed in the U.S. are committed by high school dropouts. When there are no opportunities to meet economic goals through legitimate means, the only means left to meet these goals are illegitimate. Education improves human capital. Human capital generally refers to the knowledge, skills, and talents an individual possesses. This human capital is what makes an individual employable. Those with a higher human capital value will secure the better jobs. Those with little or no human capital, will work menial jobs or will be unemployed.
High schools are still educating using a template that was successful when the U.S. job markets were predominately hiring in manufacturing and industrial labor. There was a wide array of job opportunities for high school graduates and, to some degree, high school drop-outs when manufacturing and industry were the primary job options. Today, manufacturing and industrial labor jobs have been replaced by jobs often requiring a significant level of expertise in technology and automation. The human factor has been replaced with a robot, resulting in fewer legitimate career opportunities available for high school graduates and little to no opportunity for high school dropouts. This is particularly true in urban areas. Urban areas have commonalities such as a lower socio-economic status, higher rates of unemployment, higher rates of high school drop-outs, higher rates of illiteracy and, consequently, higher rates of crime than do suburban and rural areas.
Anecdotally, how many times have you gone into your favorite convenience store or fast food restaurant and when the cashier rings up your total and you hand over your money, the cashier, without thinking, inputs your bill value in the register and looks to see how much change you get back. If, after the cashier inputs your bill, you hand over some change, what look does the cashier give you? What do I do now? The cashier cannot make the change. This is simply counting backwards, but the cashier is totally incapable of making the calculation.
A more extreme example is an experience I had at a restaurant in Lima, Ohio. The restaurant had some very colorful t-shirts and I wanted a couple. I asked the hostess how much the shirts cost and she said they were $5.00 each. I bought two. I gave her a $20.00 bill. She said she had to go get the manager because she didn’t have a register and did not know how much change to give me. I asked her if there was tax on the shirts and she said no. I told her the change was $10.00. She smiled and stepped away. Shortly, the manager returned, opened the drawer and handed me $10.00. I asked the manager if the hostess was a Lima high school graduate and the manager smiled and said, “Sadly, yes.”
I know these are extreme examples and are NOT a reflection of all high school graduates in the U.S., but how does this happen? I have taught at a variety of higher educational institutions that include a tradition community college, a four-year university, and for-profit colleges and universities. I find that that entering freshmen have little to no study skills, they have no educational work ethic, most have a difficult time reading and understanding a textbook, they have little to no critical thinking skills, and there is a prevalent thought that if they show up for class, they should get an A. I had a freshman student in my criminal justice program who failed his two corrections classes his first quarter. His second quarter, he was failing the two criminal justice classes he was taking. I asked him how he was doing “this quarter” and he said he was doing fine. I pointed out to him that he failed his two classes last quarter and was failing both this quarter. I then asked him what was going on. His response was that he thought “this” was like high school. All he had to do was show up and pass. I always ask my students the first day of class what they want to get out of the class. The overriding response I have gotten over the years was “to pass.” What are we instilling in our students that their level of achievement and level of self is just to pass? I could make the argument that the high school process ingrains in students that all they need to do is pass.
Part III to follow.