In 2001, I helped Peter Brimelow with a Forbes article pointing out that, for all Americans, high school graduation rates had deteriorated, and were significantly worse than generally reported. About one out of five 18-24 year-olds failed to get a high school diploma—but an increasing share got the General Equivalency Diploma, which educrats count as graduation although there's evidence [Chart] employers don't agree.
Commenting in VDARE.COM, Peter drew the immigration moral:
"Now the immigration dimension: black and white dropout rates have increased only slightly. The real problem is the increasing proportion of Hispanics, the result of America's ongoing immigration disaster. Their dropout rate [the obverse of the graduation rate] is appalling—45% in 1999. By contrast, the dropout rate for blacks – blacks!—was only 27%. Not all dropouts will be welfare cases and criminals. But many will. Which suggests public policy is importing a new and even more serious underclass problem."
(The response of the Educrat Blob to our GED point has been masterful: it has simply stopped reporting the fraction of high school "graduates" who in fact only have a GED. Thus the more recent graduation rates that I report below include GEDs, generally around 10 percent of the total.)
A reader has just taken exception to our data. He wrote:
"You then stated that the dropout rate for Hispanics in 1999 is 45%. This is misleading for I think you were talking about foreign-born Hispanics….but the rate in October 2000 for all Hispanics was 28%."
This was our point precisely! The influx of uneducated Hispanic immigrants is now so great that it is actually distorting the overall numbers.
But even after factoring out recent immigrants, Hispanics are doing significantly worse than white and black Americans.
Here are the most recent figures from the National Center for Education Statistics:
(High school degrees now include GEDs, remember.)
As troubling as these statistics are, they don't tell the whole story. More than half of Hispanic immigrants never enrolled in a U.S. school. But they are counted as high school graduates if they completed school in their country of origin—regardless of its standard.
And these dropout rates are for young persons. It gets worse for older immigrants. Fewer than half (47%) of Hispanic immigrants aged 25 to 44 have earned a high school diploma.
It's easy to blame economic necessity for driving Hispanic immigrants out of school. But the facts suggest something else is at work. After all, Blacks are somewhat more likely to live in poverty than Hispanics, but are much more likely to graduate High School and attend college.
So why do Hispanics drop out? Problems learning English, exacerbated by the disaster of "bilingual education," have undoubtedly driven many Hispanic students out of school. School violence and gang activity may be contributing factors.
Dr. Lauro Cavazos, the former Secretary of Education and the first Hispanic Cabinet member, suggested a few years ago that Hispanic parents were to blame for their childrens' dismal record. Instead of encouraging their kids to continue their education, he argued, many Hispanic parents pressure their children to become self-supporting and to contribute to the family income.
Needless to say, Cavazos was roundly criticized. But the data support him: More than 70% of Hispanic immigrant dropouts are active members of the labor force, either working or looking for work. (Which may sound good, but by definition such work is unskilled and of little value.) That's not true for native dropouts, who are much more likely to be idle….and perhaps more likely to resume their education at a later date.
[Number fans can click here for charts.]
Edwin S. Rubenstein (email him) is President of ESR Research Economic Consultants in Indianapolis.