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Viewpoint: We don't need dropouts

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We are asking, again this year, why doesn't Georgia raise the high school drop -out age, from 16 to 17 or 18???

The facts about our current dropouts are very clear. They earn far less money, are more likely to be in jail, less healthy, less likely to be married, and more likely to be on various forms of government assistance such as food stamps and welfare..

Twenty states have already made this change, according to a study by the Education Commission of the States.

11 states set the age at 17, while 19 states still allow students to leave school at age 16, according to the commission.

Alabama raised its dropout age from 16 to 17 and began requiring parents of a student wishing to leave school to have an exit interview during which they are told of the detrimental effects of not graduating.

Alabama also requires anyone under the age of 19 to show that they are enrolled in school, have graduated, or are gainfully employed to get a driver's license.

Critics might say that raising the age requirement would mean putting off the inevitable for another year, at the expense of the state.

But let's face it, this would at least give educators more time to reach these students, which would save the state much more money in the long run,  as dropouts are not adding to our local economy's productivity and taxes, and will cost taxpayers for their healthcare, welfare, or the cost of keeping them in jail.

This step would give potential dropouts another year to think about it, and to mature before they make a decision that affects the rest of their life.