dropout law hard to enforce
January 27, 2012
Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama urged
require students to stay in school until they graduate or turn 18 — a
already in effect in Ohio and 19 other states.
least 23,000 Ohio teens dropped out in the 2010-11 school year.
And only a
small number of those kids took advantage of an Ohio provision that
lets them “
officially” leave school if they’re at least 16, have a full-time job
permission from a parent and the distric
those 23,000 were out of school illegally and could face penalties — if
could be tracked down.
educators are trying a variety of ways to keep kids in school: They
truancy officers to work with teens at risk of dropping out. They have
alternative programs to help struggling students earn credits or serve
that don’t thrive in a traditional high-school setting. They have
charter schools aimed at high-school dropouts.
there is an economic consequence when a student drops out and doesn’t
high-school diploma,” Reynoldsburg Superintendent Steve Dackin said.
to do everything we can do to make sure kids stay in school.”
redesigned its high school into career-based academies to help students
about their futures and identify their interests.
also runs Everest Academy, a charter school that serves students at
students to school who don’t want to be there can be a struggle.
districts work with courts or agencies to help track down students in
becoming truant — meaning they’ve missed more than 15 unexcused days —
that have just quit coming.
Farry, a school-court liaison for the Educational Service Center of
Ohio, helps local school districts reach out to students with
with families to come up with solutions. Sometimes, she has to find the
difficult, especially if they leave and are nowhere to be found,” she
“It’s hard to know where to start looking for them.”
she received referrals for 400 students who had at least five unexcused
percent of those referrals turned out to be truancy cases and were
the Juvenile Court, where judges can place students on probation,
from their homes or suspend their driver’s licenses or permits.
leaders say that Obama’s desire to keep kids in school until 18 is
won’t make much difference unless schools find better ways to engage
who are likely to drop out.
efforts — online classes or more internships and work opportunities
tied to their studies — can cost money, Columbus City Schools
Gene Harris said.
“I think it
is going to take the entire community — and not just the schools —
together to creatively meet students where they are at, with the
want, to reach the president’s goals,” she said.
thinks schools should serve students beyond the age of 18 if they still
trying to earn a diploma.
think there is anything magical about the number 18,” she said. “They
20 years old and not have been ready or needed a little extra help to
school Superintendent Stan Heffner agreed
know if a traditional setting works for all students, and we don’t want
shortchange them for the rest of their lives by not being flexible,” he
Superintendent Michael Johnson said he would support Obama’s call as
incentive for students to stay in school.
think it puts an additional burden on the student to be in school or be
violating the law,” he said.
requiring students to stay in school until 18 might be tough to do.
“But it has
to be the goal. You can’t set a bar that’s lower than that.”
and other articles at the Columbus Dispatch