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House Bill 216 would have raised the compulsory school attendance age in Kentucky from 16 to 17 on July 1, 2016. On July 1, 2017 the compulsory attendance age would automatically have been raised from 17 to 18. The bill would also would have removed the option for parents to allow their child between the ages of 16 and 18 to terminate their education before graduating. House Bill 215 also would have removed the current requirement under Kentucky law that a school district contact a student between 16 and 18 who has voluntarily withdrawn from school and urge them to re-enroll.
HSLDA vigorously opposed House Bill 216 and any attempt to raise the compulsory attendance age. We believe that parents should determine when their children are ready to complete school or further their education in practical work environments.
01/05/2012 (House) Introduced to House
01/09/2012 (House) Sent to House Education Committee
01/17/2012 (House) Reported favorably, First Reading, to Calendar
01/18/2012 (House) Second Reading, to Rules Committee
01/19/2012 (House) Posted for passage in the Regular Orders of the Day, for Friday January 20, 2012
02/16/2012 (House) Passed House, vote was 87 to 10.
02/21/2012 (Senate) Bill sent to Senate.
02/23/2012 (Senate) Bill sent to Senate Education Committee.
04/12/2012 (Senate) Legislature closed and the bill died.
The Kentucky legislature has been trying to pass a bill to raise the compulsory attendance age several years in the future for the past few legislative regular and special sessions. We will continue to oppose these types of bills.
• Raising it from 16 to 18 would subject Kentucky home educators to the requirements of the homeschool statute two additional years.
• Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest 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 states only require attendance to age 16. Eight other states allow a child to drop out at 16 or younger with permission of their parent. Older children unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.
• It would restrict parents' freedom to decide if their 16-year-old is ready for college or the workforce. Some 16-year-olds who are not academically inclined benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.
• 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 upper age limit 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.
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For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our Issues Library entry.