October 24, 2001

Senate Bill 522: A Bill Increasing Compulsory Age for Attendance

Senator Alma Wheeler Smith

This bill would increase the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18 years of age and would affect all school age children in Michigan, including home schoolers.

S.B. 522 was introduced on June 5, 2001 and referred to the Senate Education Committee. Sen. Loren Bennett, the Senate Education Committee chairman, has issued a statement that he will not bring this bill up in committee.

Action Requested:
No action is required.

HSLDA's Position:
HSLDA opposes this bill.

Reasons For Opposing Higher Compulsory Attendance Age:

  • 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. (These figures are three-year averages, 1996 through 1998.)
  • Most states (28) only require attendance to age 16.
  • Older children who do not want to learn cause classroom discipline problems, disruptions, and violence, making learning harder for those who truly want to learn.
  • When California raised the age of compulsory attendance, the disruption caused by unwilling students was so significant that new schools had to be set up just to handle these students and their behavior problems, all at the expense of the taxpayer.
  • Unwilling students who are forced back into the classroom are unlikely to benefit from one year of additional schooling.
  • It would require home school families to submit to one more year of governmental red tape, and be exposed to one more year of the threat of legal action or subpoena in the event of an accusation of a violation.
  • It would take away the parental freedom to decide if a 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 being forced to sit in a classroom.

 Other Resources

Bill Introduced to Raise Compulsory Attendance Age

6/15/2001 Calls Needed to Defeat Bill Expanding Government's Control Over Children