Kentucky lawmakers are trying again to raise the state’s dropout age. Currently, students can drop out of school at 16 years old with parents’ permission. But lawmakers and Governor Steve Beshear have pushed to raise the dropout age to 18, regardless of parental consent. The latest proposal before the legislature would let local school boards decide whether to adopt the higher dropout age. But once 70 districts opt in, it will become mandatory statewide.
That approach isn’t popular in the Senate. But Senator Jack Westwood says that doesn’t mean the bill can’t pass.
“[It's] certainly not dead. And I think even though we only have three days a lot of work gets done in conference committee. It’s just a matter of do we want to accept those compromises on various issues or do we want to stick to the purity of the bill in the first place,” he says.
House Education Chairman Carl Rollins says he doesn’t believe any dropout bill without a mandatory requirement would be effective.
With only three days left in the legislative session, it’s uncertain whether that change will help or hurt the issue. The measure still has to pass the full House. After that, it will be up to the Senate to accept the change or head to conference committee.