Importance of Mandatory High School

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High school is something that almost everyone goes through. However, there has been some debate as to whether or not high school should be mandatory. Some believe it should be required because other forms of education do not provide an individual with the same level or quality of education, while those who do not believe high school should be mandatory think the opposite. Those in favor of mandatory high school believe it should be required because individuals without a diploma from a traditional high school tend to develop economic issues later in life. Those in opposition to mandatory high school claim that students who do not want to be in school cause learning to be more difficult for those that do. Regardless of stance on this issue, high school is an essential piece of an individual’s education and as many experts have pointed out, the lack of a high school diploma can result in many adverse and potentially long-term economic effects.


Considering how many people have or show a lack of interest in high school, it is understandable why people would think high school should not be mandatory. It is true that students who do not desire to be in school can disrupt the learning of other individuals. However teachers can remove them from the classroom or deal with them in other ways. The National Education Association (NEA) has guidelines on its website detailing the process a teacher should take when dealing with disruptive students and provides an example scenario. The website advises teachers to talk in a certain tone, be rational, and provides information on the mindset of young adolescents. Stanford University, one the most prestigious institutes in America, also has an article on its website that covers different tactics. The article details standing near the students while teaching or directing a question toward their area in the attempt of getting them to focus. The article also says how the teacher can stop talking mid-sentence and look at the disruptive student in a nonaggressive manner to try quieting them with peer pressure. With this information, teachers are prepared and educated on ways to deal with disruptive students and can make learning for dedicated and diligent individuals easier. This also allows for teachers to help disruptive students with their education as they know how to deal with them properly.


On the other hand, some people believe high school should not be mandatory because some individuals would prefer to go to work or don’t think anything they learn will be needed later in life. Joining the workforce and getting a stable job without a high school diploma will be far more difficult and less rewarding, and can lead to economic troubles. An article published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) details unemployment rates and median weekly earnings of workers based on education level in 2016. Around 7.4 percent of individuals without a high school diploma are unemployed compared to the 5.2 percent of those that do. The median weekly earning for individuals without a diploma was $504. This is noticeably less than the median weekly earnings of individuals with a diploma which was around $692. Based on the information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is easy to see how the lack of a high school diploma can damage an individual's chances of obtaining a job as well as their earnings and can lead to many potential struggles in life such as poverty and poor health due to the inability to afford proper healthcare.


While an individual who drops out of high school can still obtain a GED, there exists a few issues. One of those issues is that a GED is not as valuable as a high school diploma. Nobel laureate James J. Heckman wrote a research paper with co-authors Nicholas S. Mader and John E. Humphries. The research shows statistics about GED recipients. It details how only a handful of individuals with a GED use it to advance in school or the workplace. The paper cites a study that shows only 31 percent of recipients enrolled in a post-secondary institution and that 77 percent of those that did only stayed for a single semester. The paper also says how a quarter of GED test takers say they studied for 100 hours or more for the test, which is very little in comparison to the 1080 hours an average high school student spends in class. Due to this drastic difference in time spent learning, GED recipients are very likely to be less prepared than their high school graduate counterparts as they have spent less time on their education and may have a harder time should they enroll in a post-secondary institution.


The authors state that another issue that damages the credibility of the GED is that 26 percent of all prison inmates earn one. The writers say that this fact, “Weakens its overall signaling value by its association to criminality.” These issues surrounding the GED make recipients less appealing to hire compared to individuals with a high school diploma. This can lead to unemployment and poverty as GED recipients may struggle to obtain a job.


Credible individuals are not the only thing that backs up mandatory high school. Plenty of research has proven how individuals without a diploma hurt themselves and others economically. An article published by the Alliance for Excellent Education informs the reader on how local, state, and national tax revenues suffer from increased dropout rates. Dropouts earn $8,000 less annually on average compared to graduates and pay less in taxes. Economies with a less educated populace have a harder time attracting new businesses and spend more on social programs such as welfare which hurts the local economy.


Further cementing the idea that dropouts affect other people as well as themselves economically is an article created by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. The study lists many impacts of high school dropouts on the economy as well as issues the dropouts themselves will face. According to the study, each class of dropouts will cost the country approximately $200 billion in their lifetime and the tax revenue loss for every male dropout between the ages of 25 and 34 is estimated to be $944 billion. Adult illiteracy costs taxpayers $224 billion per year and businesses $40 billion annually. As shown in the article by the National Dropout Prevention Center/Network high school dropouts how an astonishing impact on the economics of more people than just themselves such as the local community.


In conclusion, high school should be mandatory as it is an essential piece of education and as many credible individuals and organizations have pointed out, the lack of a high school diploma can have many negative effects on an individual as well as an economy as a whole. Those against mandatory high school claim that some individuals would rather go to work, other forms of education are equal in value, or that individuals who do not desire to be in school create issues for those that do. However, these arguments are overshadowed by the immense amount of information that supports the opposite. In the end, the benefits of mandatory high school and the positive impact they have for the individual as well as the community and economy outweigh any positives of the opposition.






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