Illinois lawmakers raise high school drop out age - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Illinois lawmakers raise high school drop out age

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President Obama wants more states to raise the minimum age for high school students to drop out. Governor Pat Quinn and Illinois lawmakers are on board. But not many states are following suit.

Only Maryland has a similar law on the books. In an effort to increase graduation rates, a bill that passed both state legislatures back in May raises the high school minimum drop out age to 18. Some teachers say kids are dropping out because they're learning the wrong way.

"The problem is not the student, the problem is the focus of education."

That's what Rock Valley College Instructor Jessica Oladapo says is wrong with the current state of education in Illinois.

"Unless the focus of education changes from testing to learning, we'll continue to be in the same situation. Students are not going to be motivated, they're not going to be willing to stay in classrooms that don't really say anything about their real lives." -Oladapo adds.

Another issue is cost. One of the biggest problems with this bill is the money spent to provide extra counseling and remedial courses to potential drop outs.

"To create new programs, or to hire new staff members; those kinds of things would just be too costly for the school districts." -says Oladapo.

Belvidere Superintendent Michael Houselog says he wants to see kids in schools, and that the district is working to accomplish that goal. Guilford High School rising senior Max James says students will pick school over breaking the law.

"If kids know it's the law, that you can't drop out, they're going to wait a couple more years, and by then they'll be seniors saying 'Oh I may as well finish this year off,' or they'll have already graduated."

Professor Oladapo thinks getting teenagers to focus on a skill set while in school will ultimately help them graduate.

"They need to create a policy to encourage learning; some kind of job preparation, more vocational skills, those kinds of things would be useful to high school students."

The current age students can drop out is 17, but the new law will take effect on July 1st of this summer.

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