The Kentucky House Education Committee has approved legislation raising Kentucky’s dropout age to 18 by 2016. It’s the first bill to get a committee vote during a special session in Frankfort that’s primarily focused on balancing the state’s Medicaid budget. Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says the dropout bill would send a message to educators that the state’s serious about keeping kids in school.
“There’s so many different ways that alternative education can meet the needs of children,” says Holliday. “But again, to get people thinking outside of their traditional approach to alternative ed, I need just a little push. And this legislation would do that.”
The committee vote was 21-4, and all of the opponents were Republicans, including Representative Ben Waide of Madisonville.
“I’ve had broad-based opposition to this from the teachers in my district,” says Waide. “They’re contacting me and letting me know – and they’re the ones that have a heart for the kids, they’re the ones who care about the kids in their school – they’re saying this won’t work. This isn’t the answer.”
The measure won approval in the Democratic-controlled House in this year’s regular session, but died in the Republican-controlled Senate.