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EDITORIAL: Program offers dropouts a chance to get back on track

The financial consequences of failing to finish high school paint a bleak picture for students tempted to skip the diploma. Nevertheless, almost 4 percent of Clark County School District students drop out each year.

On average, the Graduation Alliance reports, they can expect to earn $260,000 less over a lifetime than students who finish their studies. In 2017, according to the alliance, the average dropout made $20,241, while the typical high school graduate made a bit more than $30,000 and those with a bachelor’s degree brought home an average of $56,000.

There are exceptions to these numbers, of course. But they are few and far between. A clear correlation exists between earning power and education levels.

There is also a clear link between welfare and education levels. The alliance reports that “half of Americans on public assistance” are high school dropouts, as are 80 percent of those incarcerated in the nation’s prisons and jails.

These sobering numbers should prompt Las Vegas taxpayers to applaud the new arrangement between the school district and Acceleration Academy, a for-profit outfit with the goal of giving wayward students a second chance at a high-school diploma.

Randy Pagel, a former principal at Sunset East High School, oversees the academy’s Nevada operations, which features a mix of online and on-site learning opportunities intended to allow students up to the age of 21 — 22 for special education students — to complete missing credits in pursuit of finishing high school.

“Our target student is one who dropped out, who gave up, who may be reluctant to learn in a traditional environment,” Mr. Pagel explained. “We have an opportunity to help them.”

Students must spend 12 hours of week at the academy’s office campus, where they can avail themselves of teachers and tutors in a more relaxed atmosphere. The curriculum also involves online time watching lectures, writing essays and engaging in other projects while finishing classes that beef up their delinquent credit count.

This is a worthwhile endeavor. As long as the academic rigor of the program meets the standards expected of graduating students, this is a win-win for everyone involved, including the taxpayers. Few among us didn’t make a counterproductive decision in their teenage years. Offering these kids a chance to right the ship and work toward being productive adults is the right thing to do.

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