What do you think about raising the dropout age to 18?
In January, 2012, the President gave his annual State of the Union address to Congress. Regarding education in America, the President said that states should require “all students stay in school until they graduate or turn 18.”
Confronting the issue of high school dropouts has been an ongoing challenge for decades. Parents, educators and legislatures wrestle with the pros and cons of forcing students to remain in school. Some states have tied driving privileges and work permits to remaining in school. Nationwide, approximately 3 million young people between the ages of 16 and 24 are dropouts. One expert commented that the national graduation rate is worse now that it was 40 years ago.*
Twenty-one states and the District of Columbia require students to attend school until age 18. Since the President’s speech, other states have jumped on board and are now debating raising their attendance-age requirements. Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota and New Jersey have bills pending in their legislatures. Eleven states require attendance until age 17 while 18 states still maintain the traditional age of 16.**
Do you think the compulsory age of attendance should be raised, lowered or remain the same? Will raising the age have a positive outcome or is forcing a student to be in school counter productive? Why or why not?
*Professor Russell W. Rumberger, UC Santa Barbara, Director of the California Dropout Research Project.
**Statistics from the Education Commission of the States.