Debate proceeds in the NH House on bill HB 429 which returns the drop out age to sixteen. A16-year-oldd could leave school with a parent’s permission. John Lynch and the education community have come out against this change and responded with warnings of the potential consequences. They then entertain us with ‘success stories’ resulting from their raising the drop out age to 18 just a few years ago.
John Lynch has even bragged about how he helped reduce the drop out rate by 30%, down to 1.7%, but if that is true, then 98.3% of all students in New Hampshire must be “graduating.”
I can tell you from long discussions about the various pathways to “graduation” that the goal is getting kids through school on paper to make the numbers look good. Any reasonable path to that end is considered a win, but by any traditional standard, it is anything but a public school success story.
To make this approach work they even changed the definitions and altered the methodology for reporting drop outs so raising the age to 18 probably has little or nothing to do with the reported improvements under Lynch. Just ask anyone what “Early exit Non-graduates” are and why we call them that. But SB 18, the bill that raised the dropout age to 18, did serve a purpose.
When you and your party are beholden to the deep-pocketed Teachers unions in a state suffering from wide-spread declining enrollments and rising school budgets, you do anything you can to pad those participation numbers. Forcing kids to stay in school until they are 18 (or they graduate) adds a few extra butts in the seats, but it is no guarantee they will graduate, even at 18–or that they have even learned anything more along the way.
As to the finer points, that’s all politics. But at the end of the day you can ask the defenders of SB18 this question. When John Lynch said the dropout rate had declined to 1.7%, can we prove that 98.3% of New Hampshire students are really graduating with the knowledge and skills necessary. (Necessary again being very subjective.) If you can’t, no matter what you decide to call it, then it’s just a smoke screen to hide the truth and forcing kids to stay in school just to have them in school costs taxpayers money and serves no other purpose.