Governor Calls on House to Pass Legislation To Increase NH's Graduation Rate

From The Office of Governor Jonh Lynch

CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch called on members of the House of Representatives to pass legislation to increase New Hampshire's graduation when they meet tomorrow.

" We've been studying and discussing how to lower New Hampshire's dropout rate since at least the 1980s - if not longer, " Gov. Lynch said. " It's time to stop discussing and commiserating about the problem. It's time to take action. This legislation will mobilize every sector of our state - and give us a deadline we have to meet - to finally make reducing New Hampshire's dropout rate a priority, instead of something we just talk about doing someday. "

Former Governor John H. Sununu, who proposed similar legislation when he was Governor, wrote Governor Lynch yesterday saying, " Please encourage the House Republicans to support your dropout legislation. "

In addition to increasing the compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18, the legislation allows students, parents and schools to establish alternative learning plans for students who do not do well in the traditional classroom setting.

" Last year, an estimated 2,300 New Hampshire students dropped out of high school. Without a high school diploma, those young people are not going to have the opportunities they deserve, and our state will not have the educated workforce it needs to thrive, " Gov. Lynch said. " This legislation sends our young people a clear message that we are not going to give up on them or let them give up on themselves. "

The state pays a high cost for high school dropouts, and so do dropouts. High school dropouts will have fewer jobs open to them, and will earn significantly less throughout their lives then people with high school diplomas. Nearly 80 percent of prisoners in America are high school dropouts. Dropouts are twice as likely to be on welfare. Rates of teen pregnancy, substance abuse and crime are significantly higher among dropouts. A recent study by Polecon Research of Dover concluded that the cost of dropouts to New Hampshire's Medicaid program alone is nearly $45 million a year.

" Business leaders, law enforcement, community leaders and parents have come together from across New Hampshire to support this legislation as an important component to our overall state effort to reduce the dropout rate. I ask members of the House to support this bipartisan effort as well, " Gov. Lynch said.
The Gates Foundation today launched a nationwide campaign to encourage states to focus on decreasing the high school dropout rate. The effort is featured this week in Time Magazine and on Oprah.

John Bridgeland, the author of a recent Gates Foundation Study, The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts, has expressed support for New Hampshire's legislation to increase the compulsory attendance age.

" Governor Lynch is showing terrific leadership in ensuring that state law is consistent with our financial and moral commitment to educate young people through the 12th grade and in bringing leaders across the state together to discuss how we can support these young people, offer them a variety of options to keep them engaged in school, and increase graduation rates, " Bridgeland said recently.

SB 268 is sponsored by Senators Dick Green, Iris Estabrook, John Gallus, Sylvia Larsen, Maggie Hassan, Bob Odell, Lou D'Allesandro, Andy Martel, Joe Foster, David Gottesman, and Representatives Ken Weyler, Jim Craig, Steve L'Heureux and Clair Synder.

SB 268 is supported by the Business and Industry Association, the Retail Merchants, the Auto Dealers, and educators including the New Hampshire Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, the School Boards Association, and the Principals Association.