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May 1, 2007

Bill Would Raise Compulsory Attendance Age

Senate Bill 14 is legislation which would raise the compulsory school attendance age in Alaska from 16 to 18. This bill would also limit the time a child under 18 could work and attend school in one day to nine hours.

Under current law, children being taught by their parents in a home education program are exempt from public school attendance. However, if Senate Bill 14 passes, parents conducting home instruction will be required to do so for an additional two years in order to maintain the exemption. This expansion of state control over education would interfere with the right of families to make decisions about work and school choices for children who have reached the age of 16.

There are other reasons to oppose this bill besides its effect on home education. Studies have shown that persons 16 years old who lack the self-motivation to continue in school receive little benefit from compulsory attendance and, in fact, have a negative influence on other students their age who are attending school voluntarily. Given the breakdown of discipline in the public schools, legislators should not impose any requirement of attendance on students over age 16 who do not wish to be there and who will further disrupt efforts of teachers to instruct those students who desire to learn. Also, additional teachers will have to be hired and school facilities built to accommodate the additional students, all at taxpayer expense.

Home School Legal Defense Association urges home educators in Alaska to contact their state senators and express their opposition to this bill expanding the state's control over education.