Here and Now

Flooding & Power Loss After Irene, Rising College Costs and Dropout Rates: Today on Here and Now

1:06pm: Flooding from rains dumped by tropical storm Irene have isolated entire towns in the Northeast, and some communities are warily watching swollen rivers for signs of cresting. More than 2 and a half million people from North Carolina to Maine lacked electricity today, three days after Irene churned up the Eastern Seaboard. The storm has been blamed for at least 40 deaths in 11 states. One of the hardest hit is Vermont. We get the latest from Candace Page, senior reporter with the Burlington Free Press.

1:12pm: Community College is supposed to take 2 years, but 80% of the students who enroll fail to graduate even after 3 years. The numbers at 4 year colleges are not much better — only half the students who enroll manage to get their Bachelors’ degrees in 6 years. Statistics like those, says reporter Jon Marcus, “have helped push the U.S. from 1st to 10th in the world” for the proportion of college graduates, and “threaten to make this generation of college-age Americans the first to be less-well educated than their parents.” President Obama vowed to reverse this trend with a major speech at Macomb Community College in Michigan 2 years ago. Marcus visited Macomb this year and found that things have actually gotten “much, much worse” for public and community college students — severe budget cuts have translated into higher tuition and fees and less financial aid, forcing students to work more while they go to school. The budget cuts also mean fewer classes, making it harder for students to find room in required courses. We’ll speak with Marcus about what he found out.

1:50pm: Getting caught up in fictional lives, whether in a book or on TV, or daydreaming about the future may seem like a waste of time. But according to Yale University Psychologist Paul Bloom, getting involved in works of the imagination, whether it be in a daydream or a movie can have value, and people spend more time in that kind of leisure activity as opposed to activities they say they do more, like eating or playing or sex. Bloom writes about the benefits of exploring fantasy worlds as part of his book How Pleasure Works: The New Science of Why We Like What We Like — and he joins us this hour to explain.

Local News

Kentucky Graduation, Dropout Rates Decrease in 2009

by Stephanie Crosby

Data compiled by the Kentucky Department of Education shows that the state’s high school students are graduating at a lower rate, but are also dropping out of school at a lower rate. The non-academic data was released in a report today.

Spokesperson Lisa Gross says dropout rates in Kentucky have declined by more than 1% since 2002.

“We’ve still got a long way to go,” says Gross. “especially when the drop-out rate for African-American students is almost five-percent. We have a fairly small population of African-Americans in this state in our public schools. Five-percent of them are dropping out. That’s too much. hat’s too high. We need to address that.”

The numbers released today also show the graduation rate decreasing from 84.52% in 2008 to 83.91% last year. Retention rates – the number of students held back a grade – also increased by .2%.

Local News

Graduation, Dropout Rates Climb

More students are graduating from Kentucky high schools, but more students are also dropping out. New numbers out today show Kentucky’s high school graduation rate climbed from 83.7% in 2007 to around 84.5% last year.

But Education Department spokesperson Lisa Gross says the dropout rate also increased.

“Even though it only went up very slightly, from three-point-one-seven percent to three-point-three percent, it’s still an increase,” says Gross. “That means that more kids are dropping out for whatever reason and we in schools are not meeting their needs, and that’s something that needs to be addressed.”

Both rates can increase in the same year because graduation rates measure only seniors, and dropout rates measure all grades in high school.

Graduation rates are tied into federal No Child Left Behind funding.