Tune out. Drop out.

MPR’s Art Hughes is checking on the reliability of data that was used in a report out today that suggests Minneapolis schools are a basket case. Initial word is that the data is about 4 years old.

The report “Crisis in Cities,” was released by the EPC Research Center, for America’s Promise Alliance, the Colin Powell-led group. A copy of the report is available here.

Analyzing the country’s 50 most populous cities, the report said Minneapolis’ schools came in at #45. Detroit, which apparently finishes last in just about every survey these days, finished last.

According to the report, only 43.7 percent of Minneapolis school kids graduate “on time,” defined as the number of 9th graders who can be expected to graduate, based on the “old data.”

The report also looked at the suburban-urban “education gap,” and found Minneapolis’ to be about average — a 17-percent graduation rate difference between it and suburban districts. The report said 80.7 percent of kids in suburban districts graduate.

By Minneapolis schools’ calculation, however, the graduation rate is 67.2 percent, and lists a near 87 percent graduation rate for the four largest high schools (Report available here). That data is through last spring’s graduations.

Whether you’re using the old data or the “new” data, the numbers are still disheartening. It means that in Minneapolis, four to six students per day drop out.

Up at the Capitol this year, a bill — SF3001 — would change the age at which kids can drop out to 18, from 16. It appears to have bipartisan support, but some educators reportedly think it focuses too much on the end of the school years and not the beginning. Maryland is considering the same sort of legislation (Hat tip to Mike Marchio, the Minnesota Fantasy Legislature boss.)

Behind every number, of course, is a person. What happens to the kids who leave? Some go on to get GEDs. By one calculation, more than 80 percent of those who get GEDs are in the labor force, and suggested most of those who drop out realize they need to further their education.

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