Bill requires kids to stay in school through age 18
State Sen. Liz Brater, D-Ann Arbor, has reintroduced a bill that will require every child in Michigan to stay in school until they are 18 or graduate, whichever is sooner. Senate Bill 170 raises the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18, and addresses the urgent need to increase the high school graduation rate in Michigan.
"In our troubled economy, it’s more important than ever to make sure our kids are given every opportunity to succeed," said Brater. "Michigan needs an educated workforce, and that begins with a high school diploma. Raising the dropout age will keep students in school longer, giving them the skills needed to compete in the job market."
The bill recognizes that some students will do better outside of a traditional classroom setting. It allows alternative and vocational education as well as community college courses to count toward graduation. Apprenticeship and work study programs would qualify under this approach, as well as an option for a student to complete courses online. If this bill is adopted, it would affect students currently in the fifth grade or younger. Fifteen other states, including Wisconsin, Ohio, Minnesota, Texas and Kansas, require school attendance to the age of 18.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average male high school dropout earns only $19,000 per year while the average female drop-out makes only $12,000. The average high school graduate will have an annual income at least 50 percent higher than his or her non-graduate counterpart. This disparity grows every year.
Aside from the economic costs involved with dropping out of school early, there are also severe social costs. According to the Department of Corrections, approximately 70 percent of the inmate population in Michigan prisons last year had not completed high school. The state spends $6,700 per pupil per year to educate them, but it costs almost $30,000 per year to house a prison inmate.