The South Carolina Legislature is looking to become the latest state linking the right to drive for a person 16-18 years old with whether they’ve stayed in school. The Digitel reports that:
A new bill proposed by freshman lawmaker Rep. Tom Young and co-sponsored by 45 House members would punish teens who drop out of school or habitually skip their classes by taking their drivers license away until they’re 18.
Young is calling the bill “a short-term solution to the state’s long-term problem of too many students not graduating.”
At least 20 states have passed similar laws, but a House Education panel postponed voting on the bill last week stating that too many questions remain.
It’s good that they’re asking questions. Several points came to mind for me:
In most states, by dropping out after age 16, they’d be doing something legal, although I’m not sure if the action requires a parent’s consent. Ultimately, it should be left up to the parent whether they want their child up to age 18 to continue in school or drop out. So if you’re wanting to insure that students all graduate, then make the compulsory age of attendance up to 18 and don’t link school attendance with getting a driver’s license. There’s no logical legal connection. If a parent wants to take away a child’s driving rights for disciplinary reasons, they’re free to do that at any time. The state shouldn’t have the same leeway just because the young person is doing something the state doesn’t approve of but that also is not related to their ability to drive safely on government streets.
This seems to be simply another way for the state to secure its monopoly on education and its control of individuals. Callers to the Don and Roma Show on WLS-AM, where I heard about the proposal Monday morning, emphasized that we have to do something to improve the education of our children and keep them attending school longer. The problem is most kids do graduate from high school, but that doesn’t seem to help matters at all. That’s because our public schools are failures. Keeping students in them a year or two longer isn’t going to help the U.S. public education system–or help the children. While I prefer that young people get a 12-year education through either home schooling or a private school, I have no problem with them dropping out and trying to learn on their own through working in the real world. This is how things in our society worked before the “teen-ager” was invented. People went from being children to being adults through the acceptance of responsibility for their lives.
Enough mandates, already.