Obstacles that prevent individuals from getting into and through college aren’t just problems for students – they cause a drag on the nation’s economy, too, according to a new White House report.
In the report, the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers details the opportunity gaps and disparities – particularly for young men of color – within education, employment and the criminal justice system that hinder some Americans’ success.
“These disparities in education, earnings, employment, and involvement with the criminal justice system mean that the potential achievements of millions of Americans are cut short by disadvantage,” the report says. “They are an injustice for those directly affected and a drag on the American economy, resulting in lower aggregate earnings, a smaller labor market, and slower economic growth.”
Closing the gap in educational attainment between working-age men of color and non-Hispanic white men, the report says, would result in the share of college-educated men of color doubling. From an economic standpoint, men of color would also earn $170 billion more annually, the average weekly earnings for all workers would increase by 3.6 percent, and the country’s Gross Domestic Product would increase by 1.8 percent.
Some of the educational disparities the council targets in the report include widely varying high school graduation and college completion rates. Black and Hispanic students graduate high school at a rate 17 percentage points and 13 percentage points below their white peers, for example. And while black students who graduate high school are about as likely as white students to enroll in college, they’re more than 10 percent less likely to eventually earn a degree.
“Given these disparities in educational investments and persistent school segregation and their associated impacts on student achievement, it is not surprising that youth and young men of color lag their peers on most measures of labor market readiness and success,” the report says. “These substantial disparities in educational opportunity and attainment fuel inequities for young men of color that persist into adulthood.”
While high school graduation and college enrollment rates have improved among minority students, poor preparation, undermatching, and a lack of support still impede successful college completion, the report says.
The authors tout the use of high-performing charter schools as a way to improve high school graduation rates and better prepare students for college and the workforce. To boost college completion rates for minority and low-income students, the authors suggest reducing college costs, which they said can be done in a number of ways: By tying scholarship programs to performance incentives, requiring students to meet regularly with counselors, or providing transportation subsidies and free use of textbooks, for example.
“When America misses these milestones, we fail our youth – and imperil our economic future,” the report concludes. “The gains we can achieve together by hitting these milestones are substantial, and they are possible with concerted investment in proven strategies for improving youth opportunities and outcomes.”
Publication Date: 7/15/2015