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Councilors: Raise dropout age to 18

Jackson JacksonBoston City Councilors John Connolly (at large) and Tito Jackson (Roxbury, South End) today proposed raising the minimum age at which public-school students could leave school to 18.

The two say similar action in other states has led to dramatic decreases in dropout rates; they will hold a hearing later on dropout-prevention efforts by Boston Public Schools. If the council as a whole agrees with them, it would have to seek approval from the state legislature to change the current minimum Boston dropout age of 16.

"What are the things we don't allow 16-year-olds to do?" Connolly asked. "And yet we allow them to leave school."

Connolly said seven out of ten Boston public-school students never go to college. When a college degree is the key to lifetime success, that's unconscionable, he said.

Connolly acknowledged that simply raising the dropout age would not be enough; the city needs to work even harder on programs that help kids get through high school.

Jackson said the higher age would give the school system another tool to get kids on the right track and away from the criminal-justice system.

BPS spokesman Matthew Wilder said the School Committee has yet to be presented with the proposal, but would likely be interested in considering it. "We have done a lot of work around the dropout rate, even in the last few years," he said. "The dropout rate is now 5.7%, the lowest point in nearly three decades. We certainly recognize that there is more work to be done and still, despite the recent successes, more work needs to be done."

He added BPS also has programs that try to get dropouts either back into educational programs.

City Councilor Bill Linehan backed the proposal, in part out of personal experience. "I was a troubled teen in high school. Not only was I thinking I would leave high school, but my teachers were hoping I would."

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Comments

Why ??? This will only give the cretins who do noting but take up air and space another two years to waste valuable education dollars. Let them walk out the door.

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I don't see the problem as being that they aren't forced to go to school - I see the problem as being that the school system refuses to accomodate people who aren't ready to learn until they are a bit older. Instead of this feel-good bandaid nonsense, why not open night schools for adult GED prep and dropouts who may actually have gotten nowhere jobs and want to grow up?

I've had several young relatives do just this: drop out at 16, screw around for a while, get in some minor trouble, have to get a crappy job, realize they need to go back to school to have any sort of decent life, get their GED, go to college.

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that exists already. it's call Boston Central Adult High School. Everyone just calls it the night school for short. Housed at Madison Park.

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Hasn't this been suggested before and gone nowhere? Nevertheless, if John Connelly put his name on it - it means the Mayor approves and it'll happen. Seems the the school dept got the call on the Bat(ty as a cave) phone too. It needs to be done. There are no jobs for HS drop out anymore. With 2 more mandatory years maybe some will wise up. Thanks Tito. We know you would have pushed this reform with or without 'hiz horror'!

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How about we focus on improving the quality of education for students who want to be there first? Forcing people who don't want to be there only lowers the bar for everyone else and hurts all of us. Make our high schools solid educational institutions first and then worry about who is/isn't receiving that quality education.

What's the point of having everyone graduate if the education they get is sub-par? Would much rather see only 80% graduate with a solid education than 100% graduate with sub-par education.

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