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House Bill 262: Allow St. Louis to Raise Compulsory Attendance Age
Representative Robert Hilgemann
Allows the board of education for the St. Louis school district to adopt a resolution raising the mandatory attendance age to seventeen.
Introduced 1/23/03; referred to Committee on Education 1/28/03. The House Education Committee will hold a hearing on House Bill 262, March 19, at 5:00 PM.
This bill is now dead as the legislature has adjourned for the year.
Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest high school completion rates (Maryland, 94.5% and North Dakota, 94.7%) compel attendance only to age 16, but the state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon, 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (Figures are three year averages, 1996 through 1998.)
Most states (29) only require attendance to age 16. Older children who are unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.
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.
House Bill 262 would require homeschool families to submit to additional governmental red tape and threat of legal action in the event of an alleged violation.
It would restrict parents' freedom to decide if their older teenager is ready for college or the workforce. Some 17 year olds who are not academically inclined benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.
Even though H.B 262 exempts homeschool parents of 16 year olds from keeping records and providing 1,000 hours of instruction, the 16 year old would still be obligated to enroll in and "attend regularly" a homeschool as defined by law for the entire school term. Failure to do so could mean criminal or civil punishment for the homeschooling family.
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