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Louisiana School Board Association

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Hear the Echoes #18 - Friday, May 27, 2011

Hear the Echoes No 18

New Federal Data

Shows Importance of Advanced Education

Only five states in the U.S. , during 2009, had greater percentages of the population ages 3 and 4 in school.  Louisiana had 55.9 percent of children in that age group enrolled.  New Jersey had 66.2 percent, Massachusetts enrollment of 3 and 4 year olds amounted to 61.7 percent of all children in that age group, while Connecticut had 60.9 percent, Hawaii had 57.6 percent, New York 57.2 percent.


Only the District of Columbia had a greater proportion of 5 and 6 year olds enrolled than did Louisiana which enrolled 95.6 percent of that age group.  D.C. enrolled 98.2 percent.


          The percentage of 7 to 13 year olds enrolled in schools in Louisiana ranked 18th in the nation at 96.7 percent.


          These data-points reveal that Louisiana’s reform is successfully aimed at starting early to close achievement gaps for at-risk children.


          Projected percent change in public enrollment between 2008-09 and 2020-21 is expected to drop 2.4 percent, with the largest part of the drop in preK-8 where decline is anticipated to be 3.2 percent.  In 2008-09 Louisiana enrollment was reported to be 685,000, dropping to 668,000 in the later year.  By comparison, the enrollment in the U.S. is expected to grow 6.9 percent over that period.


          The economic importance of education is underscored by employment outcomes of young adults contained in the report (table A-18-1).  The percent of adults aged 25 to 34 and employed full time in 2010 has fallen to 60.8 percent down from 61.8 in the prior year and the decade high of 71.7 percent in 2000.  The number of unemployed rose in 2010 from 8.4 to 8.9 percent.


          Those young adults with less than a high school diploma were considerably worse off only 40.6 percent employed full time.  That was the lowest number over the 10 year period, and unemployment rose from 13.6 to 14.0 percent for the year.


          By comparison the segment of young adults with a high school diploma was more likely to be working full time.  While full-time employment for high school graduates fell to 55 percent in 2010 from 55.9 the prior year, the 2010 percentage was 15.4 percent below the ten year high point.  The percent difference between this group and the grouping without a secondary school diploma amounts to almost 15%.


          The value of an associate degree on full time employment was significant reflected in the fact that 65.4 percent were full-time employed, a drop of 3 percent from 2009 but only 8.3 percent below the best year when 73.7 percent were full time employed.   


          A college degree provided full time employment to 74.1 percent of young adult graduates, down 0.8 percent, and 6.5 percent below the high point of 80.6 in 2000.  In 2010 only 4 percent of college graduates were unemployed.


          What this information from the 2011 Digest of Education Statistics reveals should be seen as a strong incentive to students who wonder why they should be forced to remain in school; and why a good education is so important.


          Economic development that aims to diversify requires a better educated work force and Louisiana has been diligent in upgrading public schools to facilitate such an economic strategy.  However, the number of students dropping out of school, or failing to reach beyond a high school diploma remains too large.


          Strategies to promote career advancement through higher levels of education can be expected to have high priority as state and local education leadership unite behind career focused programs.


          Viewing these statistics serve to reinforce the conclusion that the need for a new career diploma option was greatly needed.  Time will provide real insights as to whether the new career diploma backers Sen. Bob Kostelka and Rep. Jim Fannin were true visionaries. 


Don Whittinghill