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Quinn to ask Illinois Legislature to raise drop-out age to 18

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WASHINGTON--Gov. Pat Quinn--following on President Barack Obama's Tuesday call to raise the dropout age--will ask the Illinois legislature next week to boost the age students have to stay in school from 17 to 18.

"I like the fact that the president said kids have to stay in school until they are 18. Jobs follow brainpower. We have to understand that investing in education, including community colleges, is the key to a nimble economy," Quinn said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Friday morning.

Quinn's office said in a Friday release he will propose hiking the drop-out age this year in his annual State-of-the-State address next week.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama called on every state to require students to stay in high school until they graduate or reach 18.

Some 20 states already have that requirement; Illinois does not. In 2005, Illinois increased the dropout age from 16 years old to 17.

Obama made the proposal because stronger anti-dropout laws keeps students in school longer--thus increasing their lifetime earning potential.

below, release from Quinn's office....

CHICAGO - January 27, 2012. Governor Pat Quinn today announced his support for raising the minimum attendance age of students in Illinois schools to age 18. As part of his ongoing commitment to reform education in Illinois, Governor Quinn will propose legislation to the General Assembly during the annual State of the State address next week to achieve this goal this year. By answering President Barack Obama's State of the Union call for states to encourage students to complete their high school education by age 18, the governor is taking another step to improve education in Illinois.

"Every child in Illinois deserves a quality education that will serve them throughout their lives," Governor Quinn said. "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."

With a current minimum dropout age of 17, Illinois is one of 29 states that allow students to drop out of school before they turn 18. As President Obama said in his address, when students are not allowed to walk away from school, they are more likely to walk across the stage to receive their high school degree. Research shows that increased educational achievement is not only positively linked to higher lifetime earning potential and stronger economies, but also to lower crime rates.

Under Governor Quinn's proposal, Illinois will take another step towards the goal of increasing the state high school graduation rate. As a result, more students will be better prepared for college or to join the workforce, which will help create jobs and strengthen Illinois' economy for the future.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on January 27, 2012 9:12 AM.

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