Dropout law will challenge districts

LANSING, Mich. - Raising the dropout age to 18 will cost an estimated $230 million annually and challenge public school districts to serve thousands of students who don't want to be there, according to a Lansing State Journal report describing the potential effects of the newly passed legislation.

"Just because you change the dropout age doesn't mean you address the dropout problem," Brad Biladeau, a government relations expert with the Michigan Association of School Administrators, told the Journal.

Students now in the sixth grade would be the first required to attend school until age 18, though they could still leave school at age 16 with parental permission, the Journal reported.

Requiring 30,000 16- and 17-year-old students to remain in school — at approximately $7,668 per student per year — would add up to about $230 million annually, according to the House Fiscal Agency, the Journal reported.

Some educators suggested mentoring, career and technical programs and smaller class sizes as ways to deal with disinterested students, the Journal reported. Lansing Police Department spokesman Lt. Mike Yankowski told the Journal that the law would reduce daytime crime.

Lansing State Journal, "Raising dropout age could cost $230M a year, may lower crime," Dec. 22, 2009

Michigan Education Report, "Should Michigan raise the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18? No," May 24, 2007