Dropouts bill put on hold
Opponents cite cost of hiking minimum attendance age to 18
DOVER -- A day after President Barack Obama called on states to increase the compulsory age for public education to 18, lawmakers in the Delaware House raised questions about the cost and implications of such a move.
Legislation to raise the age at which Delaware students could lawfully drop out of school was tabled after a hearing before the House Education Committee on Wednesday, amid opposition from those worried about additional costs and unintended consequences.
House Bill 244, sponsored by Rep. Debra Heffernan, would raise the minimum dropout age in Delaware from 16 to 18.
Currently, 20 states require students to attend school through age 18.
Proponents of raising the compulsory attendance age say it's an essential component to raising graduation rates.
Obama highlighted the issue in his State of the Union address Tuesday.
"[W]hen students aren't allowed to walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma," he said. "So tonight, I call on every state to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18."
During the hearing on her bill, Heffernan alluded to the president's challenge and gave her own reasons for supporting a higher minimum dropout age.
"Not completing high school represents a severe lifelong limitation," said Heffernan, D-Brandywine Hundred South. "They're more likely to rely on government services like Medicaid or food stamps, or end up in the judicial system; and that is a cost to taxpayers."
Approximately 1,442 Delaware students under 18 dropped out of high school last year, representing 3.7 percent of all high school students in the state, according to the state Department of Education.
The dropout rate has declined in recent years. In the 2008-09 school year, 1,983 students -- or 5.1 percent -- dropped out of high school, state data show.
Delaware's statewide graduation rate last school year was 87.53 percent. That graduation rate is calculated based on students who start in the ninth grade and graduate four years later from the same school. read more
These fine thoughts coming from someone who's kids don't have to attend public Middle and High Schools dealing with kids who don't want to be there and their parent could care less.