A sobering report was released today on high school dropouts. It shows, among other things that in 17 of our nation's largest cities more than 50 percent of students will quit school before graduating. The report card is out, and the former Secretary of State Colin Powell calls the graduation rate in America's largest cities "a catastrophe." Powell said, "We cannot afford this loss of talent that is going to keep America up and ahead of the rest of the world." The report, issued today by the non-profit educational organization "America's Promise Alliance," found that roughly half of all students in American's largest public school systems don't graduate, with more than one million students dropping out annually. In Detroit less than 25 percent of the students graduated from high school, about 30 percent graduated in Indianapolis and roughly 34 percent in Cleveland. The alliance also introduced a series of high-level dropout prevention campaign summits to reverse the trend. The group's findings also illustrate a dramatic disparity in the educational tracks of students attending public schools in urban versus suburban neighborhoods. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, "When you look at the financial resources we spend about half to educate children in the city of Philadelphia than our counterparts in the suburbs around us spend -- you can't educate kids on the cheap." Nationally about 70 percent of US students graduate on time. Many critics believe states currently underreport their true drop out rates. Today the education secretary announced a change in the way the federal government will collect graduation data. The only North Carolina metropolitan area included in the report was the Charlotte- Mecklenburg school district. It had a 59.8 percent graduation rate in the 2003-2004 school year. Read the complete report here
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