Governor Steve Beshear is warming to a modified proposal to raise the high school dropout age. Beshear has long pushed to raise the dropout age to 18. The Senate Education Committee passed a bill today that lets individual school boards opt in to a higher dropout age. It also requires those boards to provide the Kentucky Department of Education with proof that a solid alternative program exists in their districts.
The bill is sponsored by retiring state Senator Jack Westwood, who called it a compromise bill because of its alternative program requirement.
“I see this as a compromise,' Westwood said. "I believe in avoiding dropout and from that standpoint it’s very difficult for me to be opposed to the other bills that are out there that require staying in school til you’re 18. But unless we have a program in place, unless we have something that’s really gonna work, to me it’s a bad decision. So I offer this as a compromise to the other bills that are out there.”
In response, Beshear says he’s excited the Senate is getting behind the issue, even if there are changes.
“I’m just glad to see some momentum coming out of the Senate and that’s very encouraging," Beshear said. "We’re obviously not at the end of the process yet but I’m encouraged by the interest. So we’re going to be working with the Senate and we’ll work with the House and then we’ll work with them together.”
The House version of the dropout bill applies to all school boards and has no requirements for alternative education
Westwood says another bill that requires statewide content standards for technical education would be a great companion to his dropout bill.