These days, about 6000 young Oregonians drop out of school sometime between the 9th and 12 grades. As the years go by, these numbers pile up with big consequences for everyone. Not having a high school degree is a huge barrier for getting employment and a road block to further education whether for a trade school or higher education. Each drop-out has a different story to tell. Perhaps the bullying at school became intolerable, perhaps a family with children found themselves out on the street. Some school leavers flee homes of violence. Whatever the reason, such youngsters are at risk of getting into trouble with the law or they may remain unemployed the rest of t heir lives and subsist on government safety net services.
There is a window of opportunity for them to take the GED exam, sometimes known as the high school equivalency test. Arkansas provides the GED at no charge to residents of that State. It doesn’t have to be entirely provided by the tax payers though. The GED could be offered on a sliding scale instead of the flat $130 exam fee and the $250 study material package. Recovered fees could be cycled back to defray the State’s costs. In my community, a service club does fund raising for GED scholarships. The money is funneled to a local non-profit that screens potential recipients to find those most likely to benefit from the GED award. With both public and private efforts, Oregon would come out ahead when we lift young people up to the path of employment and education through the GED.