June 25, 2008

House Bill 294/ SFA (1): Raises Compulsory School Attendance Age from 16 to 18

Representative Frank Rasche, Floor Amendment: Senator R. J. Palmer

House Bill 294 was introduced earlier this year in the Kentucky legislature to address the problem public schools have had with students dropping out. The bill did not impact the homeschool community and passed the House late last month by a 93-1 vote.

However, when it reached the Senate, Senator R. J. Palmer filed an amendment, Senate Floor Amendment 1 (SFA1), which would have raised the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18. If passed, this amendment would have required homeschool parents to report to their local school district for two more years.

Additionally, this amendment would have limited a parents’ right to decide when their child was ready to finish school. If parents wanted to stop their child’s education program before the child had graduated or turned 18, they and the child would have to have a counseling session with local public school officials before they would be allowed to do so.

House Bill 294 was sent to the Senate Rules Committee and thanks to your calls the amendment was defeated.

Later, House Bill 294 fail to pass out of the Senate rules committee before the legislative session ended.

1/15/2008(House) Introduced in the House
1/31/2008(House) Passed House vote and sent to Senate.
2/6/2008(Senate) Referred to Senate Education Committee
2/21/2008(Senate) Senator Palmer filed compulsory attendance floor amendment
2/25/2008(Senate) Sent to Rules Committee

HSLDA’s Position:

Raising the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18 would subject Kentucky home educators to the requirements of the homeschool two years longer than now required. (You do not need to share this reason with your legislators.)

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-nine states only require attendance to age 16. 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.

For more information on compulsory attendance, please see our Issues Library Page, “Compulsory Attendance Age Legislation.”

House Bill 294 has already passed the House, but only in its original form. If SFA 1 passes the Senate, the bill would be sent back to the House for concurrence.

If passed, SFA1 would raise the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 on July 1, 2010.

 Other Resources

Bill Text (Word)

Bill History

Amendment Text (Word)