Glee stars Lea Michele, Cory Monteith and Chris Colfer are on track to graduating McKinley High after this season, but their characters -- Rachel Berry, Finn Hudson and Kurt Hummel tip the scale in a country where graduation rates continue to lag and where post-grad prospects are bleak.
A report released this week by the Federal Forum on Child and Family Statistics reveals that the high school completion rate has only slightly increased -- to 90 percent in 2009 from 84 percent in 1980.
Dropouts are not eligible for 90 percent of the jobs in our economy, Education Database reported last week, and the few that manage to find jobs only make 40 percent of what a college graduate would earn.
Between October 2009 and October 2010, 340,000 people dropped out of high school, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics supplement to the Current Population Survey.
According to the BLS jobs report released last week, a smaller proportion of dropouts were in the labor force in June than high school graduates not enrolled in college -- 45 percent versus 60.6 percent.
The overall jobless rate for dropouts was also higher last month, as 14.3 percent of those who did not finish high school were unemployed compared to 10 percent for graduates not in college.
Those with higher degrees tend to fare better in the job market: The jobless rate for those with some college or an associate degree was 8.4 percent in June, and just 4.4 percent of people with a bachelor's degree or higher were unemployed.
Education Database Online published "The State of Education" infographic last week (see below), reporting that a student drops out of high school every 26 seconds in the U.S., contributing to a rising unemployment rate.
"And in this recession, the gap between educational haves and have-notes is growing," Seeking Alpha writes.
"In the time it takes to watch one episode of Glee, 138 students drop out," the graphic reads. (It also points out that that's the entire student cast and half of McKinley High).
So are the Gleeks off to college to help with these statistics? Sounds like it, but fans won't get to see it first-hand since Glee co-creator Ryan Murphy insists the show will not have a college plot line to stay "true to life" as Rachel, Finn and Kurt graduate from high school.