The South Carolina House has given key approval to a bill that would penalize students who drop out of school by taking their driver’s licenses until they reach the age of 18. The measure would also apply to students who have seven or more unexcused absences, or those who are expelled. The legislation would apply to students aged 15 to 17.
Orangeburg County Democrat Jerry Govan deals with high school truancy everyday as an attendance supervisor. He said trying to keep kids in school is a noble idea, but he says this bill is just feel-good legislation.
(Govan-Wylie on drivers licences MP3 6:26)
Govan-Wylie on drivers licenses
Govan says the state loses 6000 students a year. He says approximately 30 percent of South Carolina students don’t graduate.
Greenville Republican Bill Wylie supported the legislation, saying it would be a good idea even if it only worked on some students.
Thursday’s vote for the bill’s second reading was 67-29. A final reading will have to be taken next week, so when the bill goes to the Senate, a two-thirds majority vote will be required to take it up. An attempt failed that would have conducted an automatic reading on Friday, the year’s deadline for legislation making an easy crossing from one chamber to the other.
Pickens County Republican B.R. Skelton said the bill gives him heartburn. He said lawmakers could work on the real problem if they wanted to.
(Skelton on drivers licenses MP3 3:04)
Skelton on drivers licenses
Private and home schools would also be required to report absences to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Skelton questioned the point of that, asserting that home school students don’t ever drop out.
If passed this year, the law would not take effect until August 2011.