Dropout bill passes another test in Frankfort

For 90 years, teenagers have been allowed to quit school, at 16.

“The current policy has been in place since 1920,” Rep. Jeff Greer told lawmakers in the House Appropriations and Revenue Committee Tuesday.

Among the arguments aired were that the average drop out earns $6,800 a year less than a diploma earner.

“About 75% of prison inmates do not have a high school diploma,” said Greer, D-

House Bill 301 calls for the drop out age to increase to 17 in 2013…and 18 in 2014. It passed the House budget committee with 24 voting for….and only James Comer voting against it.

“Until I’m convinced we have better alternative programs, I’m going to have to vote no on the bill,” said Comer, R-Tompkinsville.

But Comer wasn’t the only one to voice concerns. Some fear the effects of dealing with kids who don’t want to be in school…and the costs of keeping them there.

“But it takes money. I don’t see anything in the bill that says they will commit, it says we will try,” said Rep. Ron Weston, D-Louisville, speaking the budget language

The transfer of the bill from one committee into another follows a week that saw high profile people like Magic Johnson voice support for it. And some question why Kentucky isn’t following the lead of nearby states.

“I was in Tennessee over the weekend, and surely if Tennessee can have 18 as the drop out age, Kentucky can do the same,” said Ky Dept. of Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

The bill has now passed two committees and is ready for consideration on the full house floor.

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