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Public Hearings Aim to Drop the School Dropout Rate

May 1, 2008

Grand Rapids, MI – As many as 20,000 Michigan teens drop out of school each year and, starting next week, a statewide series of public hearings aims to bring that number down.

Doug Pratt with the Michigan Education Association says the school employees' union is joining a number of other organizations to host the public hearings, because they know keeping kids in school is important -- not only for the students' futures, but for Michigan taxpayers.

"If these students could graduate from school, it would save $127,000 per new graduate because of extra tax revenue, reduced public health costs and less crime. All these issues are tied together."

However, Pratt acknowledges that solving the dropout problem isn't as simple as raising the required school attendance age. He believes the statewide meetings will provide a variety of more positive solutions. The next step, he adds, will be to ensure that the state is ready to invest in those solutions.

"Investing in public education is the best way to help our economy recover in Michigan; and more students graduating, ready for 21st century jobs, is critical to that effort."

The hearings begin next Thursday in Grand Rapids, and will continue into the fall. More detailed information is available online from the Michigan Education Association Web site, at www.mea.org/dropouts.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - MI