South Carolina teens who drop out of school or habitually skip their classes would lose their driving privileges until they're 18 under a bill pushed by a freshman lawmaker.
Rep. Tom Young called it a short-term solution to the state's long-term problem of too many students not graduating. He believes threatening to yank the rite of passage of truant youth would be a powerful incentive for them to stay in school.
"It's time we do something about it," said Young, R-Aiken, noting that whenever he talked about the idea on the campaign trail in 2008, students were in rapt attention. "A lot of problems in South Carolina stem from the fact that so many people are not adequately educated."
Under the proposal, co-sponsored by 45 House members of both parties, a student's parent could appeal for an exception if the teen needs a license to get to work or to drive a sick family member to medical treatments.
Officials at the South Carolina Education Department say the idea has potential, and if it works, would benefit a state where the on-time graduation rate is 74 percent. But they note that moving up the age when students can drop out, from 17 to 18, will cost money at a time when education faces drastic cuts.