In the 2009-10 school year, 1,911 kids aged 16 and up dropped out of Nebraska schools.
I have blogged in the past about the critical importance of a high school education, and I am not the only one who strongly believes in providing a solid educational foundation for students. Preventing dropouts is one goal of Nebraska’s P-16 initiative. In addition, President Barack Obama’s education plan focuses on student achievement, lowering dropout rates, and better preparing youth for jobs or college.
Recently, Nebraska Legislature passed Bill 996. This bill, proposed by State Senator John Wightman, would prevent students under 18 from dropping out of school, unless they can prove they have to work to support their family or they cannot attend school because of illness.
Currently, students may drop out at age 16 with a notarized release from a parent or guardian.
Wightman has said letting students drop out before age 18 severely limits their job prospects. Opponents countered that the bill infringes on parental rights, and could lead to classroom disruptions from older students who don’t want to be in class.
Other states, including Maryland and Kentucky, are in the process of raising their high school dropout age requirement.
Nebraska State Senator Les Seiler has said that forcing a child to stay in school is not the answer, “the child wanting to be in school is the answer. How to accomplish this goal is the question.”
What do you think about this new bill? Do you think it’s a step in the right direction or the wrong approach to keeping children in school? Share your thoughts here.