From the Office of State Senator Leticia Van de Putte

For Immediate Release
April 26, 2011
Contact: Sarah Gomez, 512-463-0126

Senators Van de Putte and Davis Announce the Senate Passes a Bill Removing Barriers to Schools to Helping Dropouts

(AUSTIN) — Today, Senate Bill 1872, a bill aimed at increasing the states capacity to recover high school dropouts and to move them towards graduation by Senators Leticia Van de Putte, Florence Shapiro and Wendy Davis was successfully passed by the Senate. SB 1872 incentivizes successful dropout recovery programs to grow and help more students graduate in Texas.

Texas cannot afford to ignore the thousands of students that are dropping out of high school each year. The findings from a 2009 study by the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University estimates that more than 73,000 students will dropout of school in 2012. The economic implications of this statistic are striking and worrisome. Compared with high school graduates, dropouts are less likely to be employed, earn less when they are employed, pay less in taxes, receive more in direct welfare payments and are more likely to be incarcerated. Further, the report estimates that there will be $193 to $350 million annual loss in Gross State Product (GSP) of Texas due to the potential loss in hourly wages for the 2012 cohort of dropouts.

"Given the startling statistics of the economic impact dropouts have on Texas, SB 1872 is a common sense approach to reducing Texas' dropout rate and the long-term cost of not educating these students," said Senator Leticia Van de Putte. "Our bill incentivizes successful dropout recovery charter high schools to go out in the community and knock on the door of every student who has failed to graduate on time - regardless of how long he has been out."

"Recent national polling shows that 40 percent of those with a high school education or less are unemployed," Senator Wendy Davis said. "An undereducated population creates stress on social services and reduces those who are positively contributing to the growth of our economy."

Currently, dropout recovery high schools do not get penalized in their dropout rates for educating these long lost students. However, neither do they get credit for graduating them. This population of dropouts seems to disappear from our public education system rolls. The unfortunate result is a disincentive for high schools that demonstrate great success educating this high-risk population to help more dropouts. SB 1872 gives dropout recovery high schools credit for serving this a high-risk population.

David Dunn, Executive Director for the Texas Charter Schools Association said, "Ensuring charter school measures match their select mission is a priority goal for TCSA this session. Reducing high school dropout rates in Texas is vital to our shared future. SB 1872 will help measure true effectiveness of a dropout reduction charter high school and ensure successful models can replicate to become part of the solution to this statewide crisis."

One successful program is Premier High School, the dropout recovery schools operated by Responsive Education Solutions (ResponsiveEd), Texas' largest public charter school district.

"I am extremely grateful for the passion of Senators Van de Putte, Shapiro and Davis to find a solution that will help reduce the number of students that drop out of school," said Charles Cook, CEO of ResponsiveEd. "SB 1872 will provide real incentives for ResponsiveEd to open more Premier High Schools to educate this overlooked population. If SB 1872 becomes law, more Texas students will get a second chance at graduating from high school. Without more dropout recovery schools, ResponsiveEd, due to capacity, may be forced to turn away students who have dropped out and want to return to school."

The need for dropout recovery schools is great and they are a smart investment for Texas. Approximately 30,000 students were served by dropout recovery charter high schools last year. Every dropout student that Texas recovers and helps receive a diploma will save the state more than $150,000 in long-term costs and lost revenue.