Trend: Dropouts might lose drivers licenses

Published: Wednesday, April 20 2011 2:34 p.m. MDT

Lawmakers around the country are looking at a new way to keep kids in school — not letting them get a drivers license if they drop out.

Although Minnesota's law states that students only have to stay in school until they are 16, lawmakers there are considering a bill that would not allow school dropouts to get their license, the StarTribune reported on Tuesday.

"Driving is not a right, it's a privilege, and it's perfectly within bounds for the state government to expect a quid pro quo when it comes to extending privileges," the paper quoted the bill sponsor as saying.

South Carolina is also trying to encourage its students to stay in school by considering a bill this session that would take away students' drivers licenses if they skip too many classes or drop out, Fox Carolina reported.

And the Clark County School Board in Nevada asked lawmakers to consider creating a law that would only allow students who pass their classes and don't drop out of high school to get a license, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.

More than a dozen states already have such laws in place. The New York Times reported that West Virginia was the first state to have such a law and that Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas followed suit quite quickly.

Utah does not require proof of school enrollment for students 16 to 18 to obtain a license.

Some do not think this kind of law is the right solution to students dropping out of high school.

HeraldOnline reported that some school officials in South Carolina don't believe the law will do what it is trying to do.

"We've got to figure out what makes them want to drop out and prevent that decision," one principal told the HeraldOnline.

One education editor for Good commented that many students who drop out are looking for employment or already have a current job for which they need a car and a license. It seems these people will become more of a burden on society without a license.

"These take-away-the-license laws are popular because we want a silver bullet to solve our dropout crisis," the writer, Liz Dwyer, wrote on Wednesday. "But, the reasons kids drop out of school are complex and actually have nothing to do with the desire to drive a car."

Email: slenz@desnews.com

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