Legislative Bill 996: Change Provisions Relating to Compulsory Attendance

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Last Updated: April 9, 2012
Legislative Bill 996: Change Provisions Relating to Compulsory Attendance
Sponsors:
Senator John Wightman, Senator Heath Mello, and Senator Jeremy Nordquist
Summary:

If passed, NE L.B. 996 would eliminate the option for parents to discontinue the enrollment of their 16-year-old child. Exemption C now allows parents to decide whether their 16-year-old children should be exempt from Nebraska’s compulsory attendance law, but LB 996 will remove this exemption and increase state control over all Nebraska families. Amendment 2622 preserves Exemption C for students not enrolled in a public program.

Although homeschool families still may use Exemption C to exempt their children from compulsory attendance age, parents, not the government, should determine when children are ready to complete their formal secondary education and focus on work or college. This is an important freedom we must preserve! Please take action today to defeat LB 996!

HSLDA's Position:
Oppose.

Even though Amendment 2622 has preserved "Exemption C" for students who are not enrolled in the local public school, Legislative Bill 996 still increases government control over student education and opens the door for future targeting of compulsory attendance age from homeschooled students.

Action Requested:
None at this time
Status:

01/17/2012     Introduced
01/19/2012     Referred to Education Committee
01/23/2012     Notice of Hearing for January 30, 2012
02/08/2012     Placed on General File
02/17/2012     Senator Seiler selected LB 996 as his priority bill
02/22/2012     Bill advanced to enrollment and initial review
02/23/2012     Placed on select file
03/07/2012     Amendment 2333 filed by Senator Wightman
03/08/2012     Amendment 2374 filed by Senator Adams
03/16/2012     Amendment 2389 filed by Senator Wightman
03/27/2012     Amendment 2333 and Amendment 2374 withdrawn; Amendment 2622 filed by Senator Wightman
03/28/2012     Amendment 2389 withdrawn; Amendment 2622 adopted
03/30/2012     Placed on final reading
04/03/2012     Passed final reading; Signed by the Chamber President; Sent to the Governor
04/09/2012     Signed by the Governor

Background:

Contrary to popular belief, raising the compulsory attendance age does not necessarily result in higher rates of high-school attendance or improved academic performance.

1. According to an October 2011 study released by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In the 2008–2009 school year, the most recent date for which statistics are available, five of the top six states with the highest high school completion rates—Vermont (89.6%), Minnesota (87.4%), North Dakota (87.4%), Iowa (85.7%), and New Jersey (85.3%)—compel attendance only to age 16. Conversely, the state with the lowest completion rate—Nevada, at 56.3%—compels attendance to age 18. In fact, of the five states with the lowest graduation rates in the country, all five compel attendance to either age 17—Mississippi (62.0%) and South Carolina (66.0%)—or age 18—Nevada (56.3%), New Mexico (64.8%), and Louisiana (67.3%). Complete state-by-state results are available on page 25 of NCES’s October 2011 report.

2. Older children unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.

3. Passing this bill would restrict parents’ freedom to decide if their 16-year-old is ready for college or the workforce (for example, some 16-year-olds benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom).

4. Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age is an inevitable tax burden to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools. When California raised its compulsory attendance age to 18, for example, 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.

5. A study by Cornell University on raising the age of compulsory attendance found that there was no correlation between passing a law to raise the age of compulsory attendance and high school completion rates. The study shows that specific programs targeting at risk youth can help improve completion rates, but a law raising the age of attendance does not. To view the report click here.

For more information, please see our Issues Library entry on compulsory attendance age legislation.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History

Amendment 2622