Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Education Alert

Compulsory Attendance Bill
Vote Scheduled for Wednesday

In February, the House Education Committee recommended HB4030 and HB4132 for passage in the full House. These bills are scheduled for a roll call vote on the House floor tomorrow, March 3. There are several reasons why these bills should be defeated.

  • Raising the compulsory attendance age will not reduce the dropout rate. In fact, the two states with the highest high school completion rates (Maryland, 94.5%, and North Dakota, 94.7%) compel attendance only to age 16, but the state with the lowest completion rate (Oregon, 75.4%) compels attendance to age 18. (These figures are three-year averages, 1996 through 1998.) Most states (28) only require attendance to age 16.

  • An estimated 20,000 students between the ages of 13 and 15 drop out of the Michigan school system each school year. Yet there is little or no enforcement of the current truancy law, since few schools employ truant officers.

  • The proposal, while well intended, is a premature action that will have little impact, since it does not address the issues which cause the dropout problem.

  • Older children who do not want to learn cause classroom discipline problems, disruptions, and violence, making learning harder for those who truly want to learn.

  • Unwilling students who are forced back into the classroom are unlikely to benefit from one year of additional schooling.

  • It is important to re-establish the right of parents to decide when their children are ready to begin formal education and of young children to enjoy the brief years of childhood without the threat of government interventions. The failures of the public school system and the successes of home schooling demand that a thoughtful dialogue move forward on whether or not compulsory attendance laws should be retained.

  • It would take away the parental freedom to decide if a 16- or 17-year-old is ready for college or the workforce. Some 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds who are not academically inclined benefit more from valuable work experience than from being forced to sit in a classroom.

  • Another significant impact of expanding the compulsory attendance age would be an inevitable tax increase to pay for more classroom space and teachers to accommodate the additional students compelled to attend public schools. When California increased the age of compulsory attendance, unwilling students were so disruptive that new schools had to be built just to handle them and their behavior problems, all at the expense of the taxpayer.

  • Three years after implementing policy that increased the compulsory attendance age to 18, Texas reported only a .3% reduction in the dropout rate and a .1% increase in the completion rate.

  • Four years after implementing a similar policy, Kansas reported a .89% reduction in the dropout rate, but no change was reported in the completion rate. Both states failed to meet even a 2% improvement in dropout and completion rates.

  • Raising the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18 would create additional costs for the state and school districts. If all students actually remain in school until age 18, it could raise pupil memberships by approximately 30,000 statewide. At the current per pupil weighted foundation allowance of $7,668, the bill could cost $230.0 million annually, dollars that are not available.

  • There is a question of the constitutionality of the legislation. If it were it enacted into law, it would likely be challenged as infringing upon the parental right to educate children. An exemption for home, church, and private schools is therefore in order.

Please forward this information to anyone interested in this issue and call or e-mail your representative tonight or tomorrow morning to let them know your opinion on this legislation. Members who are on the Education committee are listed below. To find your representative, click here.

House Education Committee:

1. Tim Melton (D-Pontiac), Chair 517-373-0475 timmelton@house.mi.gov

2. Lisa Brown (D-Bloomfield Hills), Vice Chair 517-373-1799 LisaBrown@house.mi.gov

3. Tim Bledsoe (D-Grosse Pointe) 517-373-0154 TimBledsoe@house.mi.gov

4. Barb Byrum (D-Onondaga) 517-373-0587 barbbyrum@house.mi.gov

5. Marc Corriveau (D-Northville) 517-373-3816 marccorriveau@house.mi.gov

6. Doug Geiss (D-Taylor), Bill Sponsor 517-373-0852 DouglasGeiss@house.mi.gov

7. Jennifer Haase (D-Richmond)517-373-8931 JenniferHaase@house.mi.gov

8. Deb Kennedy (D-Brownstown) 517-373-0855 DebKennedy@house.mi.gov

9. Steve Lindberg (D-Marquette) 517-373-0498 stevenlindberg@house.mi.gov

10. David Nathan (D-Detroit) 517-373-3815 DavidNathan@house.mi.gov

11. Gino Polidori (D-Dearborn) 517-373-0847 ginopolidori@house.mi.gov

12. Sarah Roberts (D-St. Clair Shores) 517-373-0113 SarahRoberts@house.mi.gov

13. Joel Sheltrown (D-West Branch) 517-373-3817 joelsheltrown@house.mi.gov

14. Mary Valentine (D-Norton Shores) 517-373-3436 maryvalentine@house.mi.gov

15. Phil Pavlov (R-St. Clair Township), Minority Vice Chair phillippavlov@house.mi.gov

16. Justin Amash (R-Kentwood) 517-373-0840 JustinAmash@house.mi.gov

17. Richard Ball (R-Laingsburg) 517-373-0841 richardball@house.mi.gov

18. Larry DeShazor (R-Portage) 517-373-1774 LarryDeShazor@house.mi.gov

19. Tom McMillin (R-Rochester Hills) 517-373-1773 TomMcMillin@house.mi.gov

20. Tom Pearce (R-Rockford) 517-373-0218 tompearce@house.mi.gov

21. Paul Scott (R-Grand Blanc) 517-373-1780 PaulScott@house.mi.gov

22. Sharon Tyler (R-Niles) 517-373-1796 SharonTyler@house.mi.gov

23. John Walsh (R-Livonia) 517-373-3920 JohnWalsh@house.mi.gov


No comments: