In an effort to reduce New Jersey’s high school dropout rate, the proposal (A-1411) would raise the age requirement for attendance from 16 to 18 years of age. Students who graduate high school before their 18th birthday would be exempt.
“Societal changes and the increasing demands of the labor market continue to place a premium on education,” Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Mercer), a sponsor, said. “A person who stops attending school at age 16 will always lack the skills and preparation to successfully compete in the workforce and function in society.
“Requiring students to attend school until they’re 18 will help ensure that students receive an adequate education and are sufficiently prepared to compete in the labor market,” the Assemblywoman said.
High school dropouts are more likely to live in poverty, receive government assistance, become involved in crime and suffer from poor health.
“Quite simply – and quite tragically - too many of our students are being allowed to walk away before they’ve completed their education and built a foundation for their future,” Watson Coleman said. “Futures are being lost under our current law.”
According to reports, nationally, high school dropouts cost between $320 billion and $350 billion annually in lost wages, taxable income, health, welfare and incarceration costs. About a quarter of those who entered high school this year won't earn a diploma, and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, someone who did not complete high school will earn about $630,000 less over their lifetime than someone who has at least a GED.
—TOM HESTER SR., NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM