Earth Notes
2:03 am
Tue August 22, 2006

School Drop-Outs

Phoenix, AZ – Current law says every child between the ages of 6 and
16 has to be enrolled in school. And students actually
can drop out when they hit 14 if they have a job and
parental permission. Napolitano told members of a
special commission on education it may be time for a
change.

(It seems to me that in this day and age, when we're
asking and need our students to know more, that that
dropout age may be anachronistic, no longer fitting
with the needs of our students and with our state.)

Napolitano said youngsters should be required to stay
in school until they reach 18. But state school
superintendent Tom Horne thinks a mandate does not make
sense.

(My solution to the dropout problem is to persuade kids
that they should be in school with things like outside
mentoring, peer counseling, flexible hours and career
technical education. But if you force kids who don't
want to be there to be there they can be disruptive and
I think that's something we need to be careful about.)

The last big push to change the mandatory attendance
law came in 1984. In Phoenix, for Arizona Public Radio
this is Howard Fischer.