Leave those kids alone

A bill that prevents teen high school dropouts from driving is misguided.

Daily Editorial Board

The Minnesota DailyâÄôs Editorial Board has often called for more bipartisanship from state legislators in St. Paul. However, weâÄôre disappointed that both sides of the aisle have united behind an unwise bill to forbid teen high school dropouts from receiving their driverâÄôs licenses.

The bill has been put forth as a way to keep students in school. Minnesota law requires school attendance until age 16. After all, many adults see driving as a privilege. Making it contingent on school attendance is just another form of adults showing teens some tough love

Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul, said, “Driving is not a right, itâÄôs a privilege.” He went on to so say that staying in school would be a form of quid pro quo that students must accept in order to be extended the privilege of driving.

As simple as that sounds in theory, the reality is likely to be far messier.

Very few students in Minnesota drop out. According to the Star Tribune, the state has a drop out rate of just 5.6 percent.

Given the high value of a high school diploma, many students probably do not drop out of school because they want to: Circumstances often force their hand.

Family emergencies are a common reason for dropping out. In these cases, teens must be able to drive in order to help support their family members.

Additionally, using the threat of losing their license to force students to stay in school when they have no wish to do so is sure to dilute the quality of the experience for willing and interested students.

Despite the fact that this bill has received bipartisan support, it is a poor way to keep students in school. It would be far wiser to use a carrot âÄî and not a stick âÄî to keep potential dropouts in school.