House Committee Approves Bill to Raise Dropout Age

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.

By Tony McVeigh

Veteran broadcast journalist Tony McVeigh has been covering Kentucky politics since 1986, reporting for Clear Channel Communications before joining Kentucky Public Radio in 2004. His stories are aired by seven KPR affiliates, whose signals blanket the Commonwealth and parts of surrounding states. McVeigh began his broadcasting career at WRFC in Athens, Georgia, while earning a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from the University of Georgia. He has extensive anchor/reporter experience, including stints with South Carolina Network and Georgia Radio News Service in Atlanta. In 2007 and 2008, McVeigh was named Best Radio Reporter in the Kentucky Associated Press Awards. He also picked up consecutive AP Awards for Best Political Coverage. McVeigh won four Kentucky AP Awards in 2009, six in 2010 - including Best Political Coverage and Best Hard News Feature - and three in 2011. His coverage of the 2007 Kentucky governor's race topped the Political Reporting category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Awards of 2008. In 2009, McVeigh placed second in Courts and Law Reporting in the Atlanta-based competition for journalists in 11 Southern states. McVeigh is also the proud recipient of an Individual Liberty Award from the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The Brunswick, Georgia, native is a die-hard UGA football fan who enjoys photography, astronomy, live music, hiking Kentucky's Red River Gorge and exploring the state's beautiful back roads. McVeigh and his big, fat, black cat Simon, reside in Frankfort, KY.