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San Antonio's high dropout rates at the root of city's 'brain drain'

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Simply put, we're losing thousands of kids from high schools, kids who aren't very likely to go to college, kids who aren't equipped with the education they — and San Antonio — need to compete in today's global economy. Our real "brain drain" is the loss of potential in middle school and high school. All of the buzz about attracting young "creatives" by building a "great downtown" or investing in new housing, all of the public announcements of new tech firms lured to SA with one or another incentive, are not going to make our community really competitive and successful.

It's not as if we haven't known the statistics. They remain largely the same as decades ago. And it's not as if we haven't seen some effort to improve things. The Education Partnership was begun under former Mayor Henry Cisneros. Mayor Howard Peak pressed — unsuccessfully — a "Better Jobs" initiative in the late 1990s. Yet while we manage to find money to fix school buildings and widen highways, expand a convention center and build streetcars, serious improvement in local public education never seems to get the frank discussion, public attention, and real dollars we need to change things. It's really just a matter of priorities. •

Heywood Sanders teaches public administration and public policy at UTSA. His column appears monthly.

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