In a meeting of the House Education Committee this week, an attempted compromise proposal passed the committee to address the high school dropout issue in Kentucky.
SB 109 (Westwood) was heard in committee and committee chair Representative Carl Rollins offered an amendment that would make raising the compulsory school attendance age local-option for two years prior to the phase in of the statewide policy in 2017. The bill with the committee-approved amendment would allow local school districts to raise the dropout age to 18 through a local mandate until July 1, 2016 when the statewide phase in would begin. Starting in 2016, students across the state would be required to stay in school until the age of 17 and to 18 starting in 2017.
This is an encouraging development and we encourage legislators to work together on this issue as it moves through the process to send a message to all Kentucky students that dropping out is not an option. This bill joins HB 216 (Greer) and SB 52 (Higdon) in attempting to keep more students in school. It is estimated that approximately 6,000 students drop out of school each year in Kentucky, impacting not only those individuals’ lifetime earning abilities, but the educated workforce from which businesses can hire employees. Nationally, the average unemployment rate of a high school dropout is 13.1 percent, more than three times the 4.2 percent of the population with a bachelor’s degree