Senate Education Chair says there's room to compromise on drop out age bill

02/06/2013 02:27 PM

As Gov. Steve Beshear prepares to make another pitch for his priority of increasing the student drop out age from 16 to 18, the Senate Education Chairman said he sees room to compromise on the measure.

Sen. Mike Wilson, a Bowling Green Republican who took over the committee this year, told Pure Politics on Tuesday that he would rather see districts choose whether to implement that age rather than making it mandatory for all districts right away.

“I like the voluntary approach because then the school districts look at it and say, ‘You’re giving us time to get things on board for this,’” Wilson said.

The proposal Beshear and first lady Jane Beshear have backed a proposal that would gradually raise the drop out age over several years.

Wilson said the Senate’s version doesn’t have a deadline for all school districts to apply the new drop out age. “I believe that might be a negotiating point that we would be open to,” Wilson said (2:45 of the video).

But it’s not just a matter of raising an age limit. Many lawmakers want to make sure school districts have the resources to put into alternative schools that can re-engage the students who are most at risk for dropping out.

Wilson said statewide standards are needed for alternative schools (3:30) and that they currently fall into two categories: vocational and ones that are simply punitive. Wilson gave examples of both kinds that are operating in Warren County (0:50).

Also in the interview, Wilson gives his take on the new student testing scheme, which showed lower marks in most districts (4:30), and the role of federal grant money (6:50) and the importance of early childhood education — and more funding for it (9:00).

The interview starts with Wilson answering the question about why the Senate has been reluctant to embrace the governor’s proposal in recent sessions:

(More from Sen. Wilson’s interview will go online later this week.)

Earlier in the week, Beshear listed the drop out age bill first among his priorities for the 2013 session. Here’s what he told senior reporter Don Weber:


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