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September / October 2005

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Efforts to expand compulsory attendance fail

Two bills introduced in the Alabama Legislature to change the compulsory school attendance ages died before the end of the legislative session. House Bill 50 would have gradually lowered the compulsory attendance age from 7 to 5 years old. House Bill 492 would have raised the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 years old.

Home School Legal Defense Association opposes any legislation lowering the compulsory attendance age because this erodes the authority of parents, who are in the best position to determine when their child’s formal education should begin. Further, many education experts have concluded that beginning a child’s formal education too early may actually result in burnout and poor scholastic performance later. For parents conducting home instruction through church schools in Alabama, raising the compulsory attendance age would have meant extending enrollment in the school for an additional two years. Such a requirement would have limited the options for families whose children are better suited for vocational careers through training offered by apprenticeships and similar programs.

- by Dewitt T. Black