Getting more high school diplomas in the hands of Kentucky kids is the goal of a House measure that gradually ups the legal school dropout age from 16 to 18. But objectors to House Bill 224 question the wisdom of keeping kids in class longer who’d rather ditch school altogether.
Representative Jeff Greer appeared before the House education committee yesterday to make another plea this session for his dropout prevention measure. The Governor and First Lady of Kentucky have been advocating its passage for several years now. Greer believes there’s bi-partisan and bi-cameral support for the measure this year. Nearly six thousand kids drop out of school each year in Kentucky and Representative Greer says that decision often comes at a hefty price later in life.
Greer says 75 percent of Kentucky’s prison population is without a high school diploma. Madisonville Republican Ben Waide has been consistent in his opposition to the school dropout bill. He maintains that studies show raising the compulsory attendance age to 18 doesn’t create more high school graduates and that educators in his district aren’t in favor of it either.
Kentucky Department of Education Commissioner Terry Holliday offered a rebuttal to Representative Waide’s criticisms and admitted that raising the school dropout age alone isn’t a silver bullet.
Representative Jeff Greer’s House Bill 224 that gradually raises the school dropout age from 16 to 18 passed the House education committee and now waits for placement on the full House docket.
In a statement released by the Governor’s office in response to the bill’s committee passage, it says, in part: “Kentucky needs an educated, highly trained workforce, and we can’t have that if we tell kids it’s okay to drop out at 16. They lose their best opportunity at a productive future because they will likely earn less than their peers who graduate, and are more likely to find themselves on welfare or in prison. I look forward to continuing conversations with both the House and the Senate on this issue, and call on our legislators to pass this bill to keep our kids in school.”
This programming note: First Lady Jane Beshear will be on my program “Connections with Renee Shaw“ Friday at 5 pm ET on KET2 and again this Sunday at 1:30 pm ET on KET to talk about the school dropout bill and much more. Here’s a preview of our discussion here: