April 9, 2003

Legislative Document 390: Raising Compulsory Attendance Age

Legislative Document 390 threatens to add one year to the number of years that our children are already subject to state control, raising the age of compulsory attendance from 17 to 18 years of age.

The Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs voted this bill down on April 4, 2003

Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest high school completion rates (Maryland, 94.5% and North Dakota, 94.7%) compel attendance

only to age 16, but the state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon, 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (Figures are three year averages, 1996 through 1998.)

Most states (29) only require attendance to age 16. Older children who are unwilling to learn can cause classroom disruptions and even violence, making learning harder for their classmates who truly want to learn.

When California raised the age 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.

This bill would require families to submit to another year of governmental red tape and threat of legal action in the event of an alleged violation.

It would restrict parents' freedom to decide if their 17 year old is ready for college or the workforce. Some 17 year olds who are not academically inclined benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.

We oppose all attempts to expand the compulsory attendance age since it would increase the years the state could potentially exercise jurisdiction over our children because of an education-related issue.

 Other Resources

4/9/2003 - Maine--Committee Votes Down Higher Attendance Age