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Officials lobby for dropout age raise

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Richmond County school officials want the legal age for dropping out increased, and they've made their case to area lawmakers.

"It's not even lined up with the typical age a child will finish high school," Superintendent Dana Bedden recently told the area's legislative delegation, noting how 16 is the allowed dropout age yet most graduate at 17.

The idea, school officials say, is to have the dropout age increased to at least 17 and possibly 18. Dr. Bedden recently presented the proposal, among others focused on education, to the area legislative delegation to consider in their 2010 session.

The increase, which would require legislation, is backed by the Georgia School Boards Association.

"It's one of our legislative positions," said association spokeswoman Laura Reilly.

According to the Rennie Center for Education Research & Policy, 23 states have established a legal dropout age of 16, eight states have set theirs at 17 and 19 have a dropout age of 18. The Rennie Center states in a recent report that since 2000, seven states have increased the legal dropout age to 18. In the past two years, at least 10 states have defeated legislation changing the age from 16 to 18.

According to the center's report, opponents argue that increasing the age could incur greater costs in teaching more students and in enforcing mandatory attendance.

Proponents, the center states, say an age increase would reduce the number of dropouts. They also argue that laws establishing 16 as the legal dropout age are outdated as they were created when a diploma wasn't as essential.

In Richmond County, the dropout issue was raised as administrators met for a One-Third Summit two months ago to work on a five-year plan on dropout prevention. The summit's name reflected that roughly a third of Richmond County students fail to graduate -- a figure that mirrors the national trend.

State data show Richmond County has increased its graduation rate from 63.8 percent in 2008 to 70.4 percent for 2009. The county's 2007-08 dropout rate -- the most recent figure available -- was 4.1 percent compared with 6.4 percent in 2006-07 and 5.8 percent in 2005-06, according to the Governor's Office of Student Achievement.

In 2007, the system's dropout and graduation rates were analyzed by The Chronicle , showing that in many cases students weren't counted in graduation rates because they failed to graduate on time or disappeared from student rolls.

Some Augusta high school seniors said they think increasing the dropout age is a good idea.

"I absolutely agree," said 17-year-old Westside High senior Sidney Walker, adding that a 16-year-old dropout is too young to get a good job and would have nothing else to do but "crime, sleep, watch TV and eat cereal."

Westside senior Bryce Ginn, also 17, said he questions the change noting that most who drop out at 16 would probably still do so at 17 or 18.

Westside Principal Debbie Alexander said "16 might be a little young to make life choices."

Area delegation members have said they'll examine the idea further.

"I would like to have a little more information as to what that might accomplish," said Rep. Barbara Sims, R-Augusta.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3851 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (22) Add comment
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justus4
113
Points
justus4 11/17/09 - 03:54 am
0
0
Good grief! The dropout age
Unpublished

Good grief! The dropout age is what? How old is this law? It must be changed to allow public schools the ability to keep kids in school according to the law, however, that home schooling is different. The change should pretain to public schools only.

Riverman1
94238
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Riverman1 11/17/09 - 04:40 am
0
0
I'd lower the dropout age.

I'd lower the dropout age. Those students waiting until they're old enough to quit are disruptive and hurt the others who are trying to learn.

Junket831
0
Points
Junket831 11/17/09 - 05:57 am
0
0
Right on Riverman! We spend

Right on Riverman! We spend millions of dollars babysitting, entertaining and coddling students who obviously do not want to be in school. If they will be creating problems on the streets they will be doing the same in school. If a student does not want to pay attention, complete assignments and most of all behave. Tan their behind, tell them to straighten up or ship out. The next step would be to DROP the education requirement for the U.S. Military, particularly during war. So that if you DON'T graduate from High School your alternative is to learn life's lessons the hard way.

ConsiderThis
0
Points
ConsiderThis 11/17/09 - 06:23 am
0
0
If a kid drops out at 16,

If a kid drops out at 16, what do we think they are doing while not in school? If we get more of them educated, then is it possible we decrease the numbers needing social service, in jail, etc. Is it possibe that 16 is a to young to make a life changing decision of this nature? What percentage of students can get a meaningful job without a high school diploma? Do we find reasons to continue to work against RCSS in trying to do what it is supposed to do, educate more students, increase the % of students graduating?

Grasshopper
7
Points
Grasshopper 11/17/09 - 06:32 am
0
0
Continue the baby sitting?

Continue the baby sitting? Let it be a board decision. If the kid is 16 with good grades and behavior then no. If the kid has no chance and is disruptive let him go.

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 11/17/09 - 07:25 am
0
0
just don't hamper students

just don't hamper students who want to "drop out" to get their GED and get an early start on college. I know about a dozen people my age who did that, and they're what I would call successful.

Mr. Thackeray
957
Points
Mr. Thackeray 11/17/09 - 08:07 am
0
0
You cannot FORCE a kid to get

You cannot FORCE a kid to get an education. Get in the classroom and try!

Little Lamb
49245
Points
Little Lamb 11/17/09 - 08:21 am
0
0
Dr. Dana Bedden has become a

Dr. Dana Bedden has become a tyrant. First he wants to take away the seniors' school tax exemption, and now he wants to take away the time-honored tradition of dropping out. Is nothing sacred to him?

willienelson
5
Points
willienelson 11/17/09 - 09:36 am
0
0
I think this is an

I think this is an interesting statistic for young folks to know. If you can do just 4 things.....1. Graduate 2. Do not have children until you are married 3. Do not get married before age 21 4. Stay out of jail If you do these 4 things, you have less than a 8% chance of ever living in poverty.

mable8
2
Points
mable8 11/17/09 - 09:38 am
0
0
Rather than asking for an

Rather than asking for an increase in the drop-out age, it would fair better if the illustrious educators would determine WHY a student wants to discontinue their education. Most drop out because there is no challenge to learn. Most teachers display no interest in whether a student learns something or not; there is no dedication and the pay check is what matters.

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 11/17/09 - 10:39 am
0
0
They are allowed to drop out

They are allowed to drop out because at 16. they can get work permits, but very few teenagers now do that. Mable, they want to drop out because they are lazy and don't want to do their school work. They would rather hang out and do nothing while their dysfunctional parents support them. You cannot control another human being, and you cannot force a child to do school work.

gnumbgnuts
0
Points
gnumbgnuts 11/17/09 - 11:57 am
0
0
Changing the law is a joke.

Changing the law is a joke. It is rarely enforced anyway. Just putting teeth in the existing law would help as much.

BCG
0
Points
BCG 11/17/09 - 12:13 pm
0
0
Parents need to make it known

Parents need to make it known that the only option is to graduate from High School and to learn something while they are doing it. A parent is doing a child a great disservice to even think of letting them be that lazy. And if you work on helping your children understand the importance along with your loving guidance in all ways they will graduate. I had 2 who understood this without much assistance but my 3rd one took some work on my part and it is MY JOB not the state or any government entity. If he chose to drop out there would be consquences one of which homelessness! Grow up parents do your part the government should not. And for good measure those who make it hard for others to learn need there own special place not a ticket out which is what they want after all.

lifelongresidient
0
Points
lifelongresidient 11/17/09 - 02:05 pm
0
0
the state constitution needs

the state constitution needs to be changed so that education isn't a right but a privelege. lower the drop out rate to 13, develop a 3 strikes law for school that way the consistent trouble makers and those who don't want to learn and are disruptive and/or violent can be easily expelled...oh that's right if this is done then think of the amount of state/federal funds richmond county BOE will lose and will not hve on hand to waste on useless "programs" for "at-risk youths" as opposed to spending money for children who rieally want to learn and truly want to get an education...but not richmond county just build more b-ball/football/track venues for school that consistently fail to meet ayp, have consistently low graduation rates or future criminal and welfare public housing dwellers

struggling parent
1
Points
struggling parent 11/17/09 - 05:24 pm
0
0
I like omnomnom comment that

I like omnomnom comment that there are students who are going for GED to get early start on college... How about this alternative for kids want to drop out. If they are 16 and chafing to drop out.... make them attend classes for GED for a year until they're 17 and give them their diploma or certification of completion for GED.. some may feel they cannot do regular classes or keep up... the alternative for GED is basic and they may need to take that. If they do well, they may be encourage to switch back to regular classes and get diploma. We may need alternative options or go the route of vocational school like in the past to teach work skills along with classes...

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 11/17/09 - 05:28 pm
0
0
Struggling parent, you should

Struggling parent, you should probably know that a diploma is worth more than a GED. I know employers that if you apply and say you have a GED, they say "thanks so much" and it ends there. Dropping out of school doesn't start at 16, it starts in about 4th grade.

Justnosey
2
Points
Justnosey 11/17/09 - 06:06 pm
0
0
Drop out....get a slightly

Drop out....get a slightly used mini-fridge to start your career....

baronvonreich
1
Points
baronvonreich 11/17/09 - 11:47 pm
0
0
No high school degree should

No high school degree should equal no welfare and public assistance.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 11/18/09 - 08:47 am
0
0
The drop out age should be

The drop out age should be raised to twenty one. If you fhaven't graduated by then, then there should be no problem with dropping out.

jaymay12
0
Points
jaymay12 11/18/09 - 09:34 am
0
0
These kids need better

These kids need better guidance in their life and the value of education needs to be taught at an early age. I am not for adding to the bums we see without a education and they have to lean towards drugs and crime to try to survive.... Therefore, please keep these kids in school and teach them at an early age the importance of education.

themaninthemirror
0
Points
themaninthemirror 11/18/09 - 02:53 pm
0
0
Those of us who realize the

Those of us who realize the value of an education already have it or are pursuing it. The preacher preaches salvation every Sunday, but there are some in the congregation who are hell bound.

corgimom
38705
Points
corgimom 11/18/09 - 03:47 pm
0
0
Dropping out of school starts

Dropping out of school starts in about 4th grade. By the time they get to high school, they are so far behind that it is impossible to do high school level work or GED work. There are a lot of parents out there that either don't care or are too caught up in their own issues to properly raise their child. If a child is not at reading grade level by the end of 3rd grade, they are at very high risk for dropping out. In 4th grade the books and the curriculum change, and the ones that are not at grade level immediately decline.

tiredofit1
0
Points
tiredofit1 11/18/09 - 10:59 pm
0
0
Everything in education today

Everything in education today about making everyone equal. It is working, they are all learning together at the rate of the slowest student. Why should children(I did not call the students, because they are not trying to learn anything) who do not want to be in school be allowed to negatively affect those that genuinely care about being educated?

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