On Tuesday, the House Education Committee took up HB 1879, which would create a Blue Ribbon Task Force to study the impacts of increasing the compulsory attendance age for public school from sixteen to seventeen or eighteen. Such a move has been endorsed by the Joint Legislative Commission on Dropout Prevention and High School Graduation.
The purpose of this task force is to examine the fiscal implications of raising the compulsory age of education on other states, the effectiveness an increase would have in keeping students enrolled in schools, and the best ways to work with so-called “at risk students” to prevent drop-outs.
The bill was passed unanimously without much debate. Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) did make a good point, however, when he suggested that the best way to keep students in school may not be to raise the compulsory age of education, but rather to encourage teachers to make the curricula more interesting and relevant to students. Schools should expand their technical and vocational education programs to do just this. Such a move would provide students with useful skills that they can use for employment upon graduation.