Recently, the SC House of Representatives passed a bill that would suspend licenses for teens under 18 who drop out of school or are excessively absent. This bill has to pass another vote in the House before it reaches the Senate.
The bill outlines exceptions for teenagers if the license is necessary to obtain a job or for other family obligations. Students who continue education via GED classes or who return to school would be eligible to obtain their licenses.
1. For this proposal to pass, there should be direct evidence of a correlation between high school dropouts under the age of eighteen and licensed teenagers. [Young admits that it won’t solve all high school dropouts, but argues that it should help a little. http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2011-05-13-school-dropout-teen-driving_n.htm]
2. For this proposal to pass, it should offer confirmation that alternatives (raising the age at which teenagers can withdraw from school, examining the education system for solutions where dropouts most frequently occur, and examining the major causes for high school dropouts) have been investigated and deemed insignificant by a qualified panel.
According to a study by the Civic Report from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, South Carolina has the lowest graduation rate for the United States at 54% (Jay P. Greene, Ph.D; Marcus A. Winters.
http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/cr_48.htm). This indicates that there is indeed cause for alarm in the South Carolina Department of Education to correct such an alarming issue, but it doesn’t mention a correlation between licensed teenagers and high school dropouts as this doesn’t seem to be the main cause for withdrawal from school. This proposal indicates a belief by our legislators that suspending the licenses of teenage dropouts under the age of eighteen will deter them from dropping out of school-a choice given by the state. This lack of correlation makes it difficult to see how this proposal does little more than stamp a harsh consequence on a decision given to parents and students once the student turns sixteen in South Carolina. If this isn’t going to solve the major problem behind the high school dropout rate in SC, then we should use our resources to gain insight into the main cause of the problem.
The second point, the need to explore why this proposal would be more successful than other alternatives (listed in point 2) in reducing the number of high school dropouts and improving attendance by high school student is not considered in this proposal. It offers the suspension of licenses as deterrence for withdrawal from school, and as deterrence for excessive absences according to the proposal.
In conclusion, and in short, this proposal should not be allowed to pass in this state. It does nothing to resolve, or even explore, the factors as to why the high school dropout rate is so high for the state of South Carolina. The state should not be allowed to punish parents (and students) for reaching a decision based on individual reasons-again, a choice given by the state of South Carolina.
If the concern is to keep students in the school system until the age of eighteen, raising the age at which a student can withdraw seems more logical, and it seems to fit the immediate concern that the high school dropout rate be reduced. If there is concern regarding teenagers withdrawing from school because they have their license, then raising the age at which teenagers can obtain their licenses seems to shift focus back to the education.
To ultimately fix such an issue, the state should investigate the best ways to enhance the education in the state of South Carolina so that students are receiving a quality education and can decide (at the appropriately deemed age) when to end their own educational pursuits in South Carolina or any other state in the United States of America.