Racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in early school leaving (dropping out)

L. Janelle Dance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


As quoted above, Jean Anyon (1997) asserts that "[U]ntil the economic and political systems in which [central cities] are enmeshed are themselves transformed so they may be more democratic and productive for urban residents, educational reformers have little chance of effecting long-lasting educational changes in city schools." Although we heed Anyon's assertion, in the meantime we recommend policies that facilitate these three Cs of cash, care, and coalitions. Like Mike Rose (1995), we believe that "[l]ife in the classroom is vulnerable not only to political and economic forces, but also to the inhumane and anti-egalitarian beliefs and biases in the culture at large. Schools are open systems, permeable institutions: beliefs about race and gender, about class and language, about intelligence, ability, and achievement emerge in the classroom." Therefore changing beliefs systems is a prerequisite to transforming the economic and political systems in which schools are enmeshed. The economic and social realities of the twenty-first century demand high school completion at a bare minimum. For instance, the unemployment rate is highest among people without a high school degree (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). Moreover jobs that do not require a minimum of a high school diploma are diminishing nationally. Those who do not complete high school are denied access to the essential goods that can be exchanged for a quality life. Conversely the lack of a degree grants access to impoverished and oppressed lifestyles. Often those who cannot earn a degree or enter the workforce turn to crime. In general, former prisoners report lower levels of income and education than nonprison populations (U.S. Census Bureau, 2002). The correlation between education and incarceration may explain the swell of imprisoned Blacks and Latinos across the country. Given the rapid growth of Latinos in the United States, as well as the increase in other ethnic minority populations, the failure of the public school system to provide adequate schooling environments for all U.S. students will leave generations of ethnic minorities trapped in poverty. Solving problems that facilitate early school leaving is an essential step to ensuring lively and economically viable communities. Although early school leaving has followed us into this century, we must employ those promising practices and policies that will make both the loaded concept "dropout" and the more appropriate notion of "push-out" obsolete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEmerging Intersections
Subtitle of host publicationRace, Class, and Gender in Theory, Policy, and Practice
PublisherRutgers University Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Print)9780813544540
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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