SCHOOL AGE -- A House subcommittee delved into legislation Wednesday that would raise Iowa's compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 18.More info about the bill's sponsors:
Backers of the bill, co-sponsored by Rep. Lisa Heddens, D-Ames, argue the change would help reduce Iowa's high school dropout rate. The state had about 1,100 dropouts in 2005-2006, according to education department figures.
Under current law, parents face criminal penalties if their children under 16 fail to attend school. The bill would require school attendance until age 18.
"We want to find ways to keep kids engaged in school," Heddens said.
But the idea met criticism.
Justin LaVan, a lawyer representing the Network of Iowa Christian Home Educators, insisted the change would put more reporting burdens on home-school parents. Under current law, home-school parents are required to file periodic reports on student progress until their child turns 16.
Others contended the bill would only be effective if it's coupled with more resources for alternative high schools and other programs for at-risk students.
Lisa Heddens is the Assistant Majority Leader. She's from district 46 (Ames), and is on the Administration and Rules, Education, Human Resources, and Public Safety committees. Swati Dandekar is from Marion, IA, which is district 36. She's on three committees: Appropriations, Economic Growth, and Transportation. Both women are Democrats.
While digging for that information, I discovered that Mary Mascher (D, District 77), the Representative who was so vocal last year about homeschoolers in Iowa needing *more* oversight, is now the Vice Chair of the education committee.