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MT 2011 Legislature

Jan 12, 2011 11:53 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)

Montana dropout age draws testimony at Capitol

Montana State Senator Taylor Brown (R-Huntley) wants to change the legal dropout age in Montana from 16 to 18 years old.

Brown is carrying the bill for Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau.

Juneau says this bill will increase graduation rates across the State.

Over 20 people testified on both sides of the bill.

Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns supports the measure, saying, "We know students who leave high school as young as age 16 limit their opportunities for a fulfilling life and that they often flounder for years without direction and withou good prospects."

Whitefish High School student Cody Hill says he also supports SB 44. Hill said, "I almost dropped out and I almost didn't attend school this year. I don't want to be one of those kids that at age 18 is going nowhere and being nothing," Hill says.

Lewis & Clark County resident Jonathan Barbarbagello says he adamantly opposes SB 44.

"What makes SB 44 unacceptable is this bill is based on the flawed assumption that the children who drop out are the problem," Barbabagello stated.

Anaconda High School student Teryn Green says students who don't want to be in school detract from her learning.

"The expectation needs to be raised within one's self and one's home, not by the government," Green says.

It's estimated that the bill will cost $1 million per year to implement.

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