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Senate Bill 286: Allows Metro School Districts Raise Compulsory Attendance Ages
Senate Bill 286 allows the city of St. Louis to raise the age of compulsory school attendance from 16 years of age to 17 years of age. This would apply to all children in St. Louis, including homeschoolers. S.B. 286 has already gone through the senate education committee and will now go to the senate floor.
Introduced 1/16/03 and referred to Committee on Education 1/23/03; Passed Senate Committee 2/11/03. PASSED executive session held on 4/2/03.
HSLDA and Families for Home Education oppose this attempt to expand the compulsory attendance age since it would increase the time during which the state has the potential to exercise jurisdiction over our children.
1. Call your senator and courteously express your opposition to S.B. 286. Your message can be as simple as:
"I urge you to vote against S.B. 286. It wastes taxpayers' money. Statistics show that compelling 17 year olds to attend school does not improve graduation rates."
Remember that your senator may not be familiar with the bill. Go to our legislative toolbox at http://www.hslda.org/toolbox to find out who your senator is and get his or her contact information.
2. Pass this on to others. Remember that S.B. 286 would affect all parents, not just those who homeschool.
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.
This bill would require homeschool families to submit to another year of governmental red tape and threat of legal action in the event of an alleged violation.
It would restrict parents' freedom to decide if their 17 year old 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.
If St. Louis raises the compulsory age, it will only be a matter of time before other school districts ask for that same power, or power to raise it even higher. This would soon lead to a crazy quilt of compulsory attendance ages across Missouri.
Even though the bill 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
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