H-SANTA MARIA

Mar 19, 2012 8:41 PM by Nikki Ibarra

Study: High school dropout rates high in California

A new study shows California as one of the top 10 states where high school graduation rates are declining, but there are positive signs on the Central Coast.

The study by "America's Promise Alliance" shows 71% of high school students in California received their high school diplomas in 2009. The national average was 75%, meaning one in four high schoolers dropped out.

Local education offices said 82% of high school students in Santa Barbara County graduated in 2009. In San Luis Obispo County, about 91% received their diplomas.

School was never a prirotiy for Santa Maria High School junior, George Jimenez.

"My mind was like, yeah, I'm not going to want to come to school. I'm not going to want to do all the work, but then I started getting into these programs and then I started thinking about the military and said, you know what, I'm going to give it a shot and do my best," said Jimenez.

But when he was placed in the credit recovery program at the high school, he was given a second chance.

The credit recovery program is for students who have failed classes needed to graduate. And without these classes, the army won't be in George's future.

"If they don't have that diploma, it's a struggle for them to survive," said Joseph Domingues, principal of Santa Maria High School.

According to the study, on average, a high school graduate will earn $130,000 more over their lifetime than a high school dropout.

At Santa Maria High School, the graduation rates have gone up; from 77% in 2010, to almost 87% in 2011.

"When they don't graduate, that door is closed and it's a struggle, to re-open that door," said Domingues.

For George, one of the reasons why he's taking advantage of this second opportunity is to live a better life; and he feels that through this program, he's on his way.

"I just didn't want to live pay check to pay check like my family does. I want to have more, for my family when I grow up," said Jimenez.

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