March 15, 2009

House Bill 189: Raises Compulsory School Attendance Age from 16 to 18

Representative Brent Yonts

During the 2009 session, House Bill 189 would have raised the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18. Under the bill, the age would have been raised from 16 to 17 in the next year and then from 17 to 18 by 2011. If passed, H.B. 189 would have eventually required homeschool parents to report to their local school district for two more years then they are currently required to.

House Bill 189 would have limited parents’ rights to decide when their child was ready to finish school. If parents wanted to stop their child’s education program before he had graduated or turned 18, they and their child would first to have had to attend a one-hour counseling session with local public school officials.

Additionally, this bill would have cost the Kentucky taxpayers an estimated $15 million a year. This does not include the cost of additional teachers for these new students.


2/3/2009(House) Introduced
2/4/2009(House) Sent to Education Committee
2/6/2009(House) Posted in Education Committee
3/3/2009(House) Passed in the Education Committee sent to the full House
3/30/2009(House) Legislature adjourned sine die

HSLDA’s Position:
HSLDA is opposed to H.B. 189

Action requested:
No further action needed.

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.”

 Other Resources

E-lert—3/5/2009—Kentucky: Please Call Now on Bill that Raises Compulsory School Age!

Bill Text (Word)

Bill History