In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Barack Obama proposed “that every state -- every state -- requires that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn 18.”
“When students don’t walk away from their education, more of them walk the stage to get their diploma,” Obama said. “When students are not allowed to drop out, they do better.”
His home state is taking up the proposal. When Gov. Pat Quinn delivers his State of the State next week, he will ask the General Assembly for a bill requiring students to stay in school until age 18.
“Every child in Illinois deserves a quality education that will serve them throughout their lives,” Quinn said in a statement. “The best way to ensure that our children have the chance to achieve and succeed is to make sure they stay in school long enough to earn their diploma.”
Currently, Illinois’s minimum dropout age of 17, making us one of 29 states that allows students to drop out of school before they turn 18.
Illinois has a statewide high-school graduation rate of 83.8 percent, but some districts do much worse. In North Chicago, for example, 50.2 percent of ninth-graders ended up earning diplomas. Only 18 high schools in the state graduated all their students.
Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President, is available on Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!