State Representatives Carlos Henriquez and Edward Coppinger co-sponsored legislation to raise the dropout age in Boston from 16 to 18.
The bill is a home-rule petition sponsored by At Large Boston City Councilor John Connolly and District 7 Councilor Tito Jackson that passed the Boston City Council unanimously and was approved by Mayor Thomas Menino.
The legislation would require all Boston public and private school students to remain in school until 18, unless they have finished all coursework required to graduate.
“Last month, I joined Councilors Connolly and Jackson at the State House to testify in support of several bills that would address the high drop-out rate across the state,” said Coppinger, D-West Roxbury. “I am supporting this home-rule petition because it is specific to the City of Boston, giving Boston Public Schools the ability to target this vulnerable group of students who give up on their future much too soon.”
"This is about doing everything we can to help students succeed. It is about protecting our investment in their future. This will help give students the opportunity to better prepare for a more productive future," said Henriquez, D-Roxbury. "I am excited about collaborating with Councilors Connolly and Jackson as well as Representative Coppinger as we work together on the shared priority of improving education in Boston."
Added Coppinger, “City Councilor John Connolly has made improving our schools his top priority on the City Council. I am honored to work with him, Rep. Henriquez and Councilor Jackson on this important issue. My friend and colleague, Rep. Carlos Henriquez has done some incredible work in his first term and I look forward to continuing our partnership.”
Said Connolly, “We don't allow 16-year-olds to smoke, drink or vote, but we will allow them to make a decision that will put the lowest of ceilings on their future. 16-year-olds are not equipped to make that decision. We need to give our educators the tools that they need to help every student.”
“The objective of this legislation is to raise standards of students across Boston and prepare them to compete in a global economy,” said Councilor Jackson. “Supporting students throughout their educational experience and especially at the end of it ultimately expands their opportunities and increases their ability to contribute to their own communities in a meaningful way.”
“According to a recent study, dropouts earn $10,000 less a year than those with just a high school diploma; they are five times as likely to be incarcerated as those with just a high school diploma; over 40% of families with a head of household who lacked a high school diploma were considered ‘poor’ or ‘near poor,’” said Coppinger. “I could go on and on listing the disastrous results that happen when children give up on their education, but my point is clear: too many children are dropping out of school unaware of the long term effects such a decision can have.”
The homerule legislation is necessary because the drop-out age is set by state statute and Boston cannot change it without state approval.