Problems For "Dropout Age" Proposal

Jan 29, 2013

A proposal to force high school students to stay in school until they're 18 or until they graduate is running into problems. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Current law says youngsters can quit at 16 or once they reach 10th grade, even without parental permission. State Representative Jeff Dial says that makes no sense as parents remain responsible for their children's behavior until they're 18. He told Arizona Public Radio, "that kid could be out there destroying some home. And then you could be the person that - during those hours - that kid is in school and that you're going to be notified by the school [if they're not]. But your kid could be out there damaging property or doing whatever else."

But at a committee hearing Monday, Representative Eric Meyer questioned how schools are supposed to deal with kids who really do not want to be there. Meyer told the committee, "there are kids that are disruptive to the classroom environment. So, if we force these kids to be there, how is that going to work for the kids in the classroom?"

Representative Heather Carter, however, said businesses look at a state's dropout rate when deciding where to locate. She said letting kids out at 16 in this state when the law is 18 in surrounding states puts Arizona at a disadvantage. A vote on Dial's bill Monday was postponed to give him a chance to alter it to gain support.