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Massachusetts

October 26, 2004

House Docket 4568: Raising Compulsory Attendance Age to 18

Sponsor:
Representative Garrett J. Bradley (D), Third Plymouth District.

Summary:
This bill would require students who have not yet graduated to attend school until age eighteen. Under current law, compulsory school attendance ends at age sixteen. This short but dangerous bill reads,

Section 1B of chapter 69 of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2002 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after the word "attendance" in line 102 its [sic] following: provided, however, all children under the age of 18 shall be required to attend school if they have not graduated.

Status:

10/27/2003Filed.

Action Requested:
Contact Representative Bradley, the sponsor of this legislation, and say, "Please don't take away two years of freedom from homeschoolers."

Rep. Bradley may be reached at:

Ph: 617-722-2120
E-mail: Rep.GarrettBradley@hou.state.ma.us
Mail: Room 472 State House, Boston, MA 02133

Background
Massachusetts is one of the most difficult states in the nation to homeschool. Superintendents have significant discretion to approve and supervise homeschool programs. MA House Docket 4568 would take away two years of liberty from homeschoolers who are already more burdened by more oversight than almost any other state.

- Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the best high school completion rates, Maryland at 94.5% and North Dakota at 94.7%, compel attendance only to age 16. The state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon: 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (Figures are three year averages, 1996 through 1998.)

- Twenty-nine states only require attendance to age 16. Older children unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.

- Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age would be an inevitable tax increase to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools. When California raised the age of compulsory attendance, unwilling students were so disruptive that new schools had to be built just to handle them and their behavior problems, all at the expense of the taxpayer.

HSLDA's Position:
Strongly oppose. This bill must be defeated!