Legislation is traveling through a New Jersey state senate subcommittee, increasing the drop out age from 16 to 18 years of age.
State laws vary, but in general, they mandate a child has to be in school until he or she turns 16, 17 or 18. Some exceptions exist, again depending on the state and school district, and most have provisions for a child to drop out with parental consent prior to the legal drop out age.
The bill is considered somewhat controversial. Opponents believe that keeping disinterested students in school disrupts the rest of the students who want to be there and want to graduate. Furthermore, they believe it adds stress to the overburdened truancy systems in place. Proponents maintain that the mandate will automatically increase the number of students who graduate. New Jersey already has a high rate of graduation at 85 percent. Take the poll to your right to log in your opinion.
Pennsylvania state law allows for 16-year olds to drop out if the employment they are seeking requires a work permit. There must be a formal employer-employee relationship. According to the state of Pennsylvania Department of Education:
“Section 1330 Of the Pennsylvania Public School Code states that a 16 year old student “who is regularly engaged in any useful and lawful employment or service during the time the public schools are in session, and who holds an employment certificate issued according to the law” is exempt from compulsory attendance. There is no specific number of hours given in Section 1330. Therefore, each school district should have a policy that specifies how many hours of employment are necessary in order for a student to withdraw at age sixteen (16).”