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Campaign for Fiscal Equity

Dr. Henry Levin

Dr. Henry Levin, William Herdkill Patrick Professor of Economics and Education at Columbia University Teachers College, testified that high school dropouts’ situation today is far worse than it was in the past -- that earnings have deteriorated over time relative to the high school graduate. For example, the average male dropout in 1968 earned 14% less than a high school graduate; today, the average male will earn 21% less than the average high school graduate and 50% less than the average college grad. Levin noted that this situation is due to the fact that the labor market now requires more intellectual work and demands more skills than in the past.

Dr. Levin testified that the dropout rate in NYC in the mid-1990’s was more than twice the national average (30% versus 13%). Dr. Levin also noted that although nationally the high school completion rate for blacks was approaching that of whites, in NYC the dropout rates for black students, 33.5%, was double that of white students.

Dr. Levin also testified that statistically lifetime earnings and job prospects are the same for GEDs and dropouts. Therefore, he stated, the percentage of GEDs should be added to the percentage of dropouts for the purpose of calculating the number of graduates without the skills necessary for sustained competitive employment (GED and dropouts rates for NYC in the mid-1990s combined exceeds 40%).

Dr. Levin further stated that the costs to society as a whole of the enormous dropout population in terms of lost income, lost taxes, welfare payments, crime, etc. was hundreds of billion of dollars and that society would likely receive a return of $6 for every additional $1 invested in the education of at-risk students.

Levin then described in detail the job-related skills students need to succeed in the modern workplace. These include such items as: reasoning, problem-solving, decision-making, obtaining and using information, planning and learning skills.

Finally, Levin testified that once learning standards are set in place, solid economic methodologies for costing out the resources needed to provide a sound basic education can be developed.

Testimony given on February 10, 2000

Parents from across the state march on the Capitol in Albany to show support for CFE.
CFE Litigation CFE v. State of New York
In 2006, after 13 years in the Courts, the New York State Court of Appeals affirmed the right of every public school student in New York to the opportunity for a sound basic education and the state’s responsibility to adequately fund this right, but deferred to the Governor and the Legislature to determine the appropriate amount. more >