Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Due Diligence Needed to Raise SC Dropout Age to 18

Former Charleston County guidance and career counselor Mark Epstein feels "hit in the gut" and "smacked in the nose" after the SC Department of Juvenile Justice raised objections to increasing the minimum high school dropout age to 18. Epstein has been vocal in Charleston County in praising the effects of raising that age from 17. According to sponsors, the purpose of the change is to "give parents another tool" to encourage their children to stay in school.

Here we have another clear example of intent versus consequences. Who doesn't want students to stay in school for as long as possible and/or until graduation. Epstein and the bill's sponsors in Columbia failed to explore fully other consequences of raising the age.

It's all very well to express shock over opposition from Juvenile Justice attorneys, but "setting a tone" is not the same as fixing a problem without creating others. According to attorney Elizabeth Hill, "If the dropout age is increased to 18, truants 'would fall under no one's jurisdiction--making it harder to enforce the law.'"

Maybe someone should have carefully reviewed all ramifications before now.

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