Let ’em Drop Out

Governor Steve Beshear doesn’t like that so many students drop out of school, so he’s an enthusiastic booster of the recent Kentucky Senate Bill 97, which requires that more young people must seek permission from their local school board before they depart. Once a 55% majority of school districts adopt this as a policy, it becomes mandatory for every young person in the state to seek permission (or turn 18) before departing high school.

There are several reasons why this policy is disrespectful to parents and young people, but the one that jumps out at me most right now is that there appears to be no exception in the law for kids that drop out to go to college or technical school. The exceptions detailed here make no mention of higher education. Say what you will about the value of college or vocational degrees, but they’re easily far more valuable than a high school diploma. Telling young people that they can’t skip high school for the rigors of college or often-just-as-challenging technical school is, at best, insulting.


  • I do believe that dropping out of high school is generally a poor decision. Even if you accept the idea that most of what you learn in high school is close to useless, the vast majority of a would-be dropout’s potential future employers use that diploma as a blunt screening device. Don’t get a diploma and you’ve already basically struck out.
  • My experience suggests that the last year of high school is maddeningly close to a total waste of time.