Teen Dropouts

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Teen Dropouts

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Look for these and other books in the Lucent Overview Series: Teen Alcoholism Teen Depression Teen Dropouts Teen Drug Abuse Teen Eating Disorders Teen Parenting Teen Pregnancy Teen Prostitution Teens and Divorce Teens and Drunk Driving Teen Sexuality Teen Smoking Teen Suicide Teen Violence

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Teen Dropouts
by Elizabeth Weiss Vollstadt

TeEN ISSuES

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To all caring teachers— and their students. Acknowledgements My thanks to career specialist Marilyn Smith and guidance counselor Steve Michaels of DeLand High School, DeLand, Florida, for answering my many questions and introducing me to new ideas and programs. Thanks also to the many other educators and program directors who shared their insights with me.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Vollstadt, Elizabeth Weiss, 1942– Teen dropouts / by Elizabeth Weiss Vollstadt. p. cm. — (Lucent overview series. Teen issues) Includes bibliographical references and index. Summary: Discusses the problem of teen dropouts, including who drops out of school and why, what life is like after dropping out, how to help teens stay in school, and how to give them a second chance. ISBN 1-56006-625-3 (lib. bdg. : alk. paper) 1. High school dropouts—United States—Juvenile literature. 2. High school attendance—United States—Juvenile literature. [1. Dropouts. 2. High school. 3. Schools.] I. Title. II. Series. LC146.6.V64 2000 373.12'913'0973—dc21 99-042535 No part of this book may be reproduced or used in any form or by any means, electrical, mechanical, or otherwise, including, but not limited to, photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without prior written permission from the publisher.

Copyright © 2000 by Lucent Books, Inc. P.O. Box 289011, San Diego, CA 92198-9011 Printed in the U.S.A.

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Contents
INTRODUCTION CHAPTER ONE 6 10 22 39 49 68 85 88 95 98 99 104 109 111

Who Drops Out of School?
CHAPTER TWO

Why Teens Drop Out
CHAPTER THREE

Life After Dropping Out
CHAPTER FOUR

Helping Teens Stay in School
CHAPTER FIVE

Getting a Second Chance
APPENDIX NOTES ORGANIZATIONS TO CONTACT SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER READING WORKS CONSULTED INDEX PICTURE CREDITS ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Introduction

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? . . . Or does it explode? 1

THESE LINES ARE taken from the poem “Harlem” by
African-American poet Langston Hughes. Written in 1951, the poem asks what happens when people cannot achieve their dreams because of racial prejudice. More recently, it inspired the title of a 1995 report on high school dropouts by the Educational Testing Service (ETS)—Dreams Deferred: High School Dropouts in the United States. The report uses some of the latest information from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education to discuss the hundreds of thousands of young people who drop out of school each year. The dreams of these young dropouts are said to be “deferred,” or postponed, because more and more jobs today require a high level of skill and education. By dropping out of high school, teens are “locking themselves out of mainstream society and are barred from good-paying jobs,” 2 says the ETS. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, in 1996 high school dropouts earned an average salary of only $14,013, about one-third less than the $21,431 earned by high school graduates. In addition, dropouts comprise half of all heads of households on welfare and more than half of all people in jail. Despite these sobering facts, 5 percent of all teens in high school drop out each year. This percentage has re-...
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