The Inequity of Our Education System: Time to “Occupy the Classroom”?

According to a new study by NCES, dropout rates have declined since 1972, but there are still 3 million students between 16 and 24, a large amount who are minority or poor, who haven’t earned high school diplomas.

The report shows the “event dropout rate” — the percentage of high school students who dropout of school anywhere between one school year and the next — is five times higher for low-income teens than for those from wealthy families. It also shows there is still a significant gap between dropout rates in white and minority teens. Black teens have a dropout rate (4.8 percent) that is two times as high as white teens (2.4 percent), and Hispanic teens have the highest (5.8 percent).

The report also shows the amount of teens who aren’t in school and who haven’t earned a diploma.

  • 5.2 percent of white youth were not in school
  • 9.3 percent of black youth were not in school
  • 17.6 percent of Hispanic youth were not in school

In a recent Op-Ed by Nicholas Kristof, he proposes it’s time to “Occupy the Classroom.” The recent grievances protestors of Occupy Wall Street have voiced include changing taxes and regulations for the wealthiest 1% to even out the nation’s wealth. Kristoff offers a thought: “… Although part of the problem is billionaires being taxed at lower rates than those with more modest incomes, a bigger source of structural inequity is that many young people never get the skills to compete. They’re just left behind.”

During the last month of Occupy Wall Street we have seen signs and heard cries from college grads who are many thousands of dollars in debt and can’t get a job. This educated workforce deserves to be employed. However, what will we do about the 3 million students already living in poverty who won’t graduate from high school?



“Occupy the Classroom,” by Nicholas Kristof. 19 October 2011. The New York Times. Accessed on 20 October 2011. <>

“New report: Dropout rates five times higher for poor students.” 19 October 2011. The Hechinger Report. Accessed on 20 October 2011. <>

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