Each legislative session thousands of bills and amendments are introduced in the Pennsylvania Legislature. Only a fraction become law, and an even smaller portion receive wide media coverage.
These bills impact the lives of people living in Pennsylvania every day.
Each week The Sentinel will highlight one bill that has not received widespread attention.
About the bill
Pennsylvania does not require parents to send their children to school until they reach the age of 8. Students are also able to dropout once they turn 17, under Pennsylvania law.
“I believe we are failing our children on both accounts,” Rep. Dan Miller, D-Allegheny County, wrote in a co-sponsorship letter.
Miller has introduced a bill that he said is aimed at giving Pennsylvania youths a better start and putting them on a better path to graduating high school and succeeding later in life.
House Bill 2229 would require students to be in school from 6 years old to 18 years old.
“The earlier that children begin attending school, the more opportunity they have to begin learning basic skills and academic fundamentals, and to interact in a positive social setting with other children on a daily basis,” Miller wrote. “This structured environment can help to support and further set children on a path toward future academic, social and career success by providing them with an earlier start.”
Miller’s bill would allow students to drop out at 17, but to do so the student would be required to obtain permission from their parents.
Current law, maintained under Miler’s bill, creates an exemption for any students who graduate high school prior to reaching the compulsory age requirement.
During the 2015-16 school year, more than 13,000 Pennsylvania students, or about 1.7 percent, withdrew from school before receiving their high school diploma, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Education.
More than 95 percent of the students who dropped out did so for reasons other than being expelled or aging out of the public school system.
Nearly 2,000 students indicated they dropped out because they disliked school, according to the Department of Education.
“(The) statistics are overwhelming that those who do not graduate high school face more difficult challenges and greater economic insecurity,” Miller wrote. “The reality is that in this economy, failure to graduate high school severely hinders future opportunities for our kids.”