Senate Bill 334 passed the Alabama Senate this afternoon. This bill would raise the drop out age to 17 and require parental consent. If the bill passes, a student could no longer drop out at 16 years of age.
Senator Barron rose to the microphone and noted that he thinks this is a bad piece of legislation, because when a 16 year old gets to the age where they no longer want to attend school trying to make them stay in the school would be difficult. Barron believes the students would become disruptive in the class room. Barron said he understands what Senator Orr is trying to do, but notes that it would have a bad impact on those students who actually want to be in school.
Senator Orr responded to concerns about disruptive students by saying that the school systems have a system to expel disruptive students who are in the class room. Another alternative that some of our systems have is to send the students to an alternative school.
Senator Orr said the up side of raising the age, is if the law requires a child to stay in school until age 17 that child will be closer to graduation and closer to their goal. Alabama is one of the few states that has a 16 year drop out age. Orr noted that some states have an age 18 year drop out age. According to Orr the statistics are astounding with regard to the economic cost to every child that does not receive a diploma, stating that close to 85% of those in our Alabama prisons are high school drop outs.
Prior to final passage, Senator Beason said that he agrees with Senator Barron, which obviously frustrated Senator Orr. Beason said that he doesn’t think the law should force people to stay in school when they clearly do not want to be there. Senator Beason further noted that students will drop out mentally and will cause problems in the classroom for the thirty other students who actually want to be there.
After debate SB334 passed the Alabama Senate with a vote of 19 yeas to 4 nays.