11 February 2010

Lawmakers Struggle with Dropout Rate

Some lawmakers are targeting West Virginia's dismal dropout rate by proposing to requiring school attendance to age 17, The Associated Press reports.

That's one year more than the current age, but "opponents countered that the bill headed for the Senate floor could burden schools with troublemaking students who would patently rather be somewhere else," writes AP's Tom Breen.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation measures West Virginia's high school dropout rate at about 17 percent, while other groups believe it's higher. Lawmakers studying the issue say "dropouts are likelier to earn less money, collect more government assistance and require publicly funded medical programs like Medicaid," the article said. "Additionally, 50 percent of the inmates at Mount Olive Correctional Complex dropped out of high school," these lawmakers told AP.

But the state's teachers unions "argue that the bill can only succeed if it includes funding for alternative education," Breen writes. "Without that, both the American Federation of Teachers-West Virginia and the West Virginia Education Association argue, the Senate bill is a burden on schools."

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