More than 3 million school-age children drop out of U.S. public schools annually. That is about 8000 daily! Only 59% of students in the 50 largest cities graduate. Approximately 17.6% of dropouts are Hispanic, and 41% of Hispanic girls who leave public school do so because of pregnancy. More than 20.7 % of dropouts are foreign born; 13% are children of foreign born parents. About 90% of dropouts are not eligible for meaningful employment in the U.S. job market. Many foreign born Hispanic teenagers fail 9th grade at least once. Every year of classroom failure increases the likelihood of not graduating with employable skills.

The harsh truth is that our porous southern border is flooding the US with thousands of students who are not being prepared to support their families or contribute to the struggling American economy. In fact, those students are projected to enlarge the welfare rolls and penitentiary population at the cost of millions of dollars annually. Illegal Latinos constitute about 23% of the Texas prison population at a cost of about $50,000 per inmate annually.

The Texas legislature has two options: (1) stop the flow of illegal immigrants into U.S. communities, and (2) allow the private sector to provide educational choice that can recover under-performing foreign-born students at less expense than the annual cost of $10,000 per student per year in public schools. Both options must be debated if our struggling economy is to recover.

Ronald E. Johnson, C.Ph.D.