Governor: House Votes to Give Up on NH's Children

From the Office of Governor John Lynch

CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch today criticized members of the House for giving up on New Hampshire's children, by choosing to call for yet another study instead of real action to reduce New Hampshire's high school dropout rate.

" The House majority voted today to give up on New Hampshire's children, " Governor Lynch said. " Instead of real action, the House chose yet again to ' study ' New Hampshire's dropout problem, " Gov. Lynch said. " Well, we've been studying this issue to death since at least the 1980s, if not longer, with little to show for it.

" Today, the Legislature had an opportunity to take bold action. To send a clear message that we aren't going to give up on our young people, or let them give up on themselves. To set a deadline for our state to reduce number of dropouts, instead of just talking about it, " Gov. Lynch said. " It's time we stop taking the easy way out, and stop allowing the students who need the most help to drop out. "

" But instead of putting the needs of New Hampshire's young people and economy first, the majority of House members made excuses or, in some cases, simply decided to put partisan politics first, " Gov. Lynch said.

The House voted today against legislation, SB268, that would have raised New Hampshire's compulsory age from 16 to 18 and allowed students, parents and schools to develop alternative learning programs for students who do not succeed in traditional classroom settings. The legislation is part of an overall state strategy to reduce New Hampshire's high school dropout rate.

New Hampshire is currently spending $25 million a year on dropout prevention and recovery. In addition, Gov. Lynch recently held a summit bringing together 250 educators, business and community leaders, law enforcement and lawmakers to develop strategies for implementing the law. The legislation would have gone into effect in the 2008-2009 school year.

New Hampshire's compulsory attendance age was set at 16 in 1903.

" I will keep fighting to help every New Hampshire child get a high school diploma. We have to stop pretending that young people can get by today with the same amount of education as in 1903. It's just not true, " Gov. Lynch said.

The bipartisan legislation had broad support from business and community leaders, law enforcement and educators. The Senate approved the bill by a vote to 17-7, and the House Education Committee recommended it be passed.

Yesterday, members of House Republican Leadership, decided they were going to oppose the recommendation of the House Education Committee and push instead for a study.