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Should Students Be 18 To Drop Out?

Maryland's General Assembly is poised to approve a bill to increase the state's minimum dropout age from 16 to 17, and gradually to 18.

Should Maryland require high school students to be 18 years old in order to drop out? 

The General Assembly is expected to pass a bill proposing to increase Maryland's minimum school dropout age from 16 to 18 years old, according to a report by WTOP.

Express your opinion on the topic in the comments section below. 

The change will align Maryland with Virginia and DC, where the dropout age is already set at 18.

"Gov. Martin O'Malley is expected to sign the bill, which is on its third and final reading in the House," the report states.

The change—according to the bill—is gradual, with the minimum age first increasing to 17 on July 1, 2015, and to 18 two years later.

The bill provides some exceptions for students to dropout early, including: kids who graduate early or get a GED, are married or are in the military, provide financial support for their family, or are taking classes through an alternative program.

Delegate Cathy Vitale (R-Severna Park) voted against the bill for several reasons that she outlined in an email to Patch.

The cost, over 35 million dollars could be better utilized focusing on addressing alternative, non-college bound programs for those students who see high school as only for those college bound.

We have many students in need of alternative education in the trades, and 35 million would go a long way to accomplish two goals. Students would on their own seek to stay in school in order to obtain certifications and diplomas for immediate post high school employment. 

Second, we would not be dealing with students who are being forced to be in school when they don’t want to at perhaps a non-economic cost, those students who stay in school and need the attention of teachers who would otherwise be busy addressing overcrowded classrooms and students who chose to be disruptive rather than be in school.

I don’t want to suggest that students are not salvageable, but rather if we can get them early, focus them and provide assistance, we won’t need to raise the mandatory age just to keep them in school, they will want to be there voluntarily.

What do you think of the proposed legislation that will increase Maryland's minimum dropout age to 18? Is the change justified or should it stay at 16? Tell us in the comments.

Amy Leahy April 10, 2012 at 02:23 AM
What's next? Banning home schooling? And the longer you force kids to stay in school if they don't want to be there, the more disruptive they will be to the education process of the kids who are there because they are maximizing their education.
DioDingo April 10, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I think kids should stay in school till they are 18...IF instead of thinking all people need or even want to go to college we start training people for positions earlier. Many other countries start their youth on either 2 paths- Higher Ed or Vocational training. We offer a little of that here in AAC but it needs to be more pervasive. Start teaching people to be cooks, mechanics, techs, installers and so on from a younger age. Work with local and national business that would then have the option to hire a trained employee. That would help not only the schools but the business sectors and families. Not everyone needs college, and many who have a degree don't do anything with it.

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