Baby You Can Drive My Car…

Unless you drop out of school, that is.  In which case, you may not be driving at all.

This short editorial was a surprise to me.  It indicates that already nearly half the states in our nation restrict driving privileges to those who remain enrolled in school.  I find that rather interesting on a variety of levels.  If you’re morbid, the full-text of the bill is here, and the related section is the very last one (of course).  
I mean, it sounds reasonable enough, right?  Every teenager wants to drive, but not every teenager wants to stay in school and graduate.  So how about linking something that they have a high motivation towards, with something they might have a low motivation towards?  Everyone wins, right?  Kids stay in school (not necessarily graduating, mind you, just filling seats until they turn 18), and they get to drive.  Sounds like a piece of cake.
If it actually works.  The editorial cites this other, short editorial that attempts to convince us (without any hard evidence) that linking driving with school enrollment is not necessarily effective.  I wasn’t able to easily Google a list of which 20 states currently link driving to enrollment, or statistics on how useful these laws are for reinforcing school attendance and/or graduation.  
Each state has to determine how long children are required to be in some form of educational process, whether public, private, or home schooled.  I would guess that at age 18, every state acknowledges that a person is legally an adult and therefore is not required to continue schooling.  Many states may allow for youth to quit attending school at a younger age with parental approval.  
The underlying assumption is that high school graduation ought to be a necessity for every person.  This is a relatively recent assumption, as we’re only a century or so removed from a time when getting an eighth-grade education was considered adequate.  Of course, there are those who argue that an eighth-grade education a century ago might be more rigorous than current eighth-grade expectations.  Regardless, more education is always assumed to be a better thing these days.  But that depends a great deal on what someone hopes to do vocationally.
I’ll state again that I am a huge proponent of education, and I believe that a good education is an investment that will last a lifetime.  
That being said, measures like this seem rather shortsighted.  Rather than focusing on the quality of education provided, they seem to assume that any education (or just the process of sitting in a school desk for seven hours a day) is better than other options – such as working.  It would seem to me that if someone is only going to school in order to maintain their ability to drive, their motivation levels may not be very strong.  If their intent is not to graduate, but rather to just fulfill the letter of the law, it would seem that they would create a greater negative influence in the school.  Apathy is contagious.  
Being a suspicious sort, I also assume that there are other goals in mind.   Special interest groups seem to be more and more adept at forcing their agendas into public school classrooms, however those successes in directly controlling how people think (and what they think) are only as useful as their reach.  If you’re missing people in the process, it’s a fly in the ointment.    I think that measures such as this, as well as increasing suspicion against home-schooling are spurred in part by the recognition that public elementary and secondary educational systems are crucial environments for shaping what people think and believe.  
Yet another reason to be very aware of what is being taught as truth or required in terms of compliance in your children’s school!

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