House Bill 170 would change the age for compulsory school attendance. Right now, that age is 16 years old. This bill raises the age to 18. The increase is phased in over a two year period. So the new compulsory age will be 17 in 2022 and then 18 in 2023.
The bill also provides for some exceptions for the age requirement: 1) the child has already earned or received a high school diploma or its alternative equivalent; or 2) the child receives permission from the superintendent of the school district or the president of the board of the charter school. Further, the bill continues the existing exemption under which a child may be excused from compulsory attendance upon request of the child’s parent or legal guardian coupled with supporting written documentation from a qualified health professional.
The bill’s prime sponsor, Representative Deborah Heffernan, said the following to the Delaware State News: “We stress over and over how invaluable an education is to being successful in life. We see more and more that in today’s world — a high school diploma is no longer optional.”
“It really is the minimum education for young people today who want economic success and independence. As we continue working to improve our educational system, we need to have students staying to complete their coursework and acquiring skills they need to be successful.”
I am not sure how you can oppose this bill, but of course, there is some opposition. From WBOC: “But the bill faces some pushback from school administrators who argue the state is creating an unfunded mandate for school districts by requiring students who wish to drop out to remain in school. “It’s the cart before the horse, right?” said Dan Shelton, superintendent of the Capital School District. The state, Shelton argued, ought to more effectively fund programs and personnel needed to help students who may be at risk of dropping out—before that situation occurs.”
WHERE IS THE BILL? House Education Committee as of 5/30/19
DEMOCRATIC SPONSORS – Heffernan, McDowell, Sokola, Bolden, Chukwuocha, Cooke, Dorsey Walker, Griffith, Jaques, Minor-Brown, Bentz, K.Johnson
REPUBLICAN SPONSORS – Cloutier, Gray
YES VOTES –
NO VOTES –
In this case, I kind of get what the districts are saying, but you have to start somewhere. Requiring students who are so let down by the current school system they want to drop out to attend school does seem like a foolish idea (if the system has already failed them, why force them to continue participating in the system which has failed them?), but simply giving up on them is also not the answer. At least this method theoretically keeps them in school a bit longer, in the hopes thay either the funding to help them will be found, or someone will find a way to connect with them even without funding.
This should not be a law OR funding situation, it should be a law, and now we’re also going to seek funding situation.