Folks may recall that President Obama called on states to raise the drop out age to 18. Senator Lester Jackson (D – Savannah) has proposal to do just that, but he’s had the idea for a while. Some Republicans aren’t exactly warm towards the idea. Those opposed are questioning the actual effectiveness of raising the drop out age. From the Savannah Morning News:
The most frequent objection to the proposal is its cost — which Jackson estimates at $8 million a year. That remains a major obstacle, at least for some.
“I just don’t think the state can afford to do it right now,” Savannah-Chatham public schools board member Lori Brady said recently.
But Jackson has argued all along that Georgia can’t afford not to do something about the dropout rate.
“It costs us about three tines as much if one-third of dropouts end up in juvenile detention or jail,” he said. “If one-fourth of them become pregnant, hospital and medical costs, food stamps and the like will cost us $30 million.”
Chatham County Commissioner Helen Stone, a Republican and a long-time supporter of the idea, has agreed to testify in favor of Jackson’s bill.
“If you look at our jail and prison population,” Stone said, “you’ll find that the average age is 21 or 22 and 90 percent of them dropped out of high school.
“That is pretty scary. If we don’t do something, most of our tax dollars will go for public safety. We have to try something different because what we’ve been doing doesn’t work.”
But Jackson’s approach still faces skepticism.
Rep. Ben Watson, R-Savannah, wants to see more numbers.
“I’m not sure it’s cost-effective,” Watson said.
In a related note, I recall seeing something on Boortz’s Nealz Nuze from the Brookings Institute about 3 things folks can do to dramatically decrease the chances of living in poverty:
Those things, according to a Brookings Institute study are:
- Graduate high school
- Work full time
- Marry before you have children
That’s it! Do those three things and your chances of being poor fall to just 2%. If you can’t handle those three things then you have pretty much brought your poverty on yourself, and you have no claim on any portion of my life to right your wrongs.
It would seem to me that mandating a raise in the drop out age would just allow students who don’t want to put forth the effort to mentally check out longer. Rather than trying to find a quick fix, we should examine our curriculum and determine how to guide these young people into a path that would allow them to be productive members of society. Perhaps we really should consider teaching technical skills in our high schools once again.